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Winamp 2 has been my music player for 20 years and it's still my main player that I use with the flac plugin. I never upgraded to Winamp 3 or 5, and Winamp 2.95 is still fully functional on Windows 10. Selecting "Double Size" makes it mostly fine on a HiDPI monitor, except some controls are a bit pixelated.

Winamp 2.95 didn't need to connect to the internet, there is no background service, no application manager bloatware, no ads or music recommendations, and it loads in 1/10 of a second without any startup service or preloader. It really whipped the llama's ass.

Straight up win32 software back then just was simpler, and the programmers back then like Justin Frankel, Ludvig Strigeus, etc. cared about program efficiency. A single programmer could write several popular applications within the decade, and now every application needs a giant team. What happened?






> What happened?

Expectations, I guess? You need to have a shiny UI, smooth animations and cross-platform.

I wrote a small media player back in 2009 called "SmallTune", using Delphi and only Win32 calls. It didn't have the VCL and SysUtils and all that stuff. It utilized BASS.dll and the exe was 230kb in size. It used ~3 MB of RAM. Some screenshots can be found using archive.org [1][2]. It featured a simple library and internet radio.

But boy, was that one hell of maintenance. I dropped the project some months later, because of my girlfriend (I was another person back then). Recently, when I found the source by accident, I started building a Win32 application using .NET Core 3.1 and CoreRT out of curiousity. To my surprise, it worked quite well. I don't know, maybe I'll revive Smalltune some day. I miss it sometimes.

[1]: https://web.archive.org/web/20110827113809im_/http://smalltu...

[2]: https://web.archive.org/web/20110827113915im_/http://smalltu...


As an aside, I've heard it discussed (on the likes of Slashdot) that one of the reasons Winamp 3 sucked so badly was that they rushed a release that was basically meant to be a complete rewrite just to have "mp3" in the application name.

... I didn't even notice that until you pointed it out.

I remember trying to download Winamp 3 at school. The web filter would block it because it found the string 'mp3' in the URL. In retrospect the administrator wouldn't have seen any more use in allowing students to download a media player than to let them spend bandwidth on the media itself. Up until 2003 ~300 students split a T1. In that year the city started offering municipal broadband and the school switched to 2x 3M/256k DSL.

> What happened?

Acceleration of the following:

- commodification of information on the internet

- the subscription model

- incentives for tracking users' every move


My only problem with Winamp 2 is that people laugh at me when they pass my computer and see it.

Yeah :-) Show them the keyboard shortcuts. Like the zxcvb set for the main 5 controls (prev track, play, pause, stop, next track), or pressing j (for jump) and then typing a part of the name of the song you remembered to play what you want at the speed of thought + typing. They'll understand that ~~it's really fast~~ it really whips the llama's ass!

Or you could globally remap them to the Quake-controls and do ctrl+shift+E to pause, next and previous with W and S, 5 sec forward/backward with A/D and on/off with Q.

Nothing like fragging your friends while playing loud music but able to skip a song if it doesn't fit the moment, all without even flipping active window. Never looked at another player because of this function.

Just had to adapt with ctrl+shift+B for next song since S was hard bound in some game.


I loved that if you held Shift while clicking Stop it would fade out the music.

I've had no better interaction with computers than the "jump to song" dialog in Winamp. It was always instantly responsive, worked when I wanted it, how I wanted it.

I totally forgot about those shortcuts!

Same. So I just open up task manager and show them that it uses only 3.4 MB. As opposed to Teams, Chrome, and all this other bloatware.

I’ve had nothing but positive, nostalgic comments for at least 5 years now.

No love for Winamp 5? It has enough of a media library to be useful. With the default classic (Winamp 2-era) skin, it loads fast enough and is snappy enough for me.

>>> What happened?

Marketing. It has become extremely difficult to be found by a large audience on the internet. There are many gatekeepers who want their share before they allow you to become visible to the audience they control.


> What happened?

Capitalism.

You can't make money out of shareware, so now everything is SaaS. This makes software way harder to write since now you're responsible for a distributed platform, including devops.

Competition is fierce now. There are very low barriers to entry, which made hobbyist projects (which is what Winamp would be considered now) mostly free.

If there's any money left in those low-barrier markets monopolies expanded into them. The only way to compete with them is with added value like a huge library of music (Spotify). Good luck trying to strike deals with record labels as a lone developer. VCs will devour any corner of opportunity in a blink, demanding growth, which will turn a perfectly fine piece of software into a feature-crept SaaS privacy-invading social platform.

TL;DR: money isn't in software anymore for self-employed people.


> You can't make money out of shareware, so now everything is SaaS.

Do we know how sales of Reaper are doing? That's Justin Frankel's latest project, and it's shareware in the truest sense (downloadable, 5 second nag screen & no other limitations - "you are on day 329 of your 30 day trial period").

Of course, Justin probably doesn't need the income because he has Winamp/AOL money, but I was under the impression that Reaper was at least providing a full time income. And it's certainly supported by most of the music hardware/software industry.


I would roundly disagree. If you find an unexploited niche and effectively corner it, there are still opportunities out there.

Just look at Bitwarden. It started out as a free and truly secure answer to password managers that were cross-platform and web/browser-based, but had issues with trust and privacy. A lone developer put his money where his mouth was, and built the product up into a SaaS that is now a small but profitable company. It’s now the fastest growing password manager out there, and certainly one of the more popular among techs.


> built the product up into a SaaS

That counts towards the parent comment's thesis, not against it. If it wasn't a SaaS charging would be much harder.


> You can't make money out of shareware, so now everything is SaaS.

This is mixing two concerns: Selling stand-alone applications and the specific shareware distribution model.

The SaaS world is struggling with the "freemium" model, too. Nothing pretty much changed there, you get your nag-screens, limited features etc.

Selling apps still works for a lot of people. Sure, it's harder when there's a popular free version available, but the same is true for SaaS again.

One major issue is the pernicious "growth" mindset: Today it's often not enough to earn some decent money, you have to "found" something. And sure, it's friggin' hard to grow a company out of a shareware product.




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