Whatever your level of expertise or experience in the IT field is, you've surely heard of the Winamp media player. Moreover, it is quite likely that most of you use it regularly, as millions of people around the world do. Winamp is an audio and video player, which is very practical and functional with a striking appearance.
First released on April 21, 1997, originally developed by Justin Frankel and distributed freely by Nullsoft, Winamp went through different stages, being version 3 the least accepted (mainly by its instability and high resources consumption) in contrast to the enormous popularity of Winamp 2 series. As a curiosity, I may tell you that there was never a 4.x series, the jump was from the version 3 to version 5. Such a jump comes from the idea of combining the best features of versions 2 and 3 in a completely new version, 2+3 =5, hence the version number.
So, today we are going to go through Winamp's best features and functions.
A Versatile Player
Winamp, is now able to play with ease virtually all formats of audio and video, of course, we need to have the right codecs installed for that to happen, maybe this sound like some inconvenience but fortunately its a one-time task, besides most common codecs are usually already installed in our systems. This wonderful media player is capable of playing the following media formats: MPG, MPEG, WAV, WMV, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP4AVI, OGG, KAR, MIDI, MID, ASF, AIF, XM, S3M, among many others. Besides, Winamp is popular for its sound quality, and further improvements, such as access to a multimedia library where we can create your own playlists.
Winamp's qualities, make of it a strong candidate to become our favorite media player, but not just in our house. With Winamp Remote, we can also enjoy media libraries (not only music but also videos and pictures) stored in our home computer from any PC connected to the Internet. This amazing feature available thanks to Winamp`s partnership with Orb, works like a sort of hybrid between remote file management and streaming broadcast. That is, we can browse the music on our computer, and Winamp Remote shall stream from it, in RealMedia, QuickTime, Windows Media, Shoutcast, or Flash. It requires the download of a plugin and registration but as it is a free and quick process we'll be enjoying this feature in a matter of minutes.
So once we have downloaded installed and registered, the only task to do is to select the files folders or media we would like to have available in Winamp Remote (click on Winamp Remote icon on system tray and select Configuration).
Finally, when we got to work, we just open Winamp Remote in a browser, login and enjoy all your media without carrying anyting!
But lets suppose we do not want to make all this, but still want to enjoy good music at work, well, Winamp still has a lot of options. We can listen and watch plenty of online media but not just from one source or list, we can choose between SHOUTcast Radio (over 18.000 radios available), SHOUTcast TV, Winamp Music, AOL Radio, Mp3of the Day, OurStage Radio and finally we can subscribe to one or various podcasts from the Podcast Directory, just take a look there are so may options.
But I'm particularly much of an AOL's radio fan, basically for its clear genre categories and subcategories list, so I can specifically choose what I like, and that's just what I'm listening and not anything else.
Winamp's latest version, 5.55 brings a lot of improvements over previous ones, what is most outstanding is the inclusion of “Now Playing” in the Media Library menu which shows album art, artist biographies and discographies, with this new feature we can keep ourselves up to date with our favorite artists and even buy and sell CDs, memorabilia and related stuff.
The new Bento skin, which is very practical with some inspiration from iTunes, also warrants that we have everything on hand (equalizer, media library, playlist) without floating windows, as with previous versions of Winamp.
Another novelties include improved Flash compatibility, enhanced web music playing through the multimedia monitor, new language packages for Turkish, Brazilian-Portuguese and Romanian, improved iPod sync support, and last but not least, the recent inclusion of Mp3of the Day and OurStage Radio online services. Unfortunately, every attempt I made to connect to the last one resulted in failure...
All In All
So, now we know why Winamp is considered the most popular media player among Internet users. Its reputation is well deserved, because it is a really versatile and functional player, with lot of options and an awesome interface, which we can customize to our hearts content by means of the many available skins.
Are you one of its million users of Winamp? Tell us what you think about it. Please, leave your comments below.
Author: Lucas Artigas Review on: Winamp 5.552 Build 2460