Nullsoft Winamp 5.23Winamp might best be described as the time-warp music jukebox. The app continues to focus on the fun of organizing and playing media while the industry has progressed to all-encompassing multimedia suites that integrate with online music stores and provide ever more intuitive interfaces. While Winamp encourages customization and experimentation with downloadable skins and plug-ins, the other players have moved on. From Microsoft Windows Media Player (WMP) 11 and Musicmatch Jukebox 10 (now the Yahoo Music Engine) to newcomers such as the Virgin Digital player, users are looking for all-in-one interfaces with a single large window, tabbed access to functions, and in-your-face displays of partners' online media and stores.
Visually, Winamp has been in a holding pattern since AOL's acquisition of Nullsoft in June 1999, although its developers make sure it keeps up with current features. The latest releases build in access to AOL Music Now (AOL's online music store) and In2TV (AOL's online TV reruns channel). They've also added native support for portable music players and free access to 20 XM Satellite Radio channels, courtesy of AOL Radio. AOL corporate expansion seems to drive much of the development but certainly not everything; a component called Shoutcast Wire lets users discover, subscribe to, and download podcasts. The paid version ($19.95) lets you rip and burn CDs at up to 48X speed, as well as encode tracks to AAC+, AAC, MP3, and WMA.