Winamp 5, a software application by Nullsoft, is the next evolution in the popular Winamp range. Winamp is a powerful media studio, allowing users to play a variety of media files through a variety of interfaces with a variety of powerful effects. (See Winamp for more information.)

Story time: Firstly, Nullsoft developed Winamp version 1, and everything was good.

Then they developed Winamp 2.x, and everything turned out to be fantastic. Winamp 2 boasted a small footprint; thousands of input, output and effect plugins*; complex visualisations; a simple skin modification interface; and it turned out to be free after version 2.50, after AOL purchased the company. Users rejoiced and it was downloaded and used en masse.

Winamp was quickly approaching versions 2.7/2.8, and the Nullsoft developers were getting bored. Once you've made a fantastic application, what do you do next? You can't fix something that isn't broken. So, they developed their next generation of Winamp; Winamp 3.

They started development from scratch, and developed a very flexible codebase. Winamp 3 allowed for all the features of Winamp 2 to be modular and customisable, including custom interfaces and interesting plugin setups. Winamp 3 also included a powerful media library, and integrated video. However, this flexibility came at a price, in terms of memory pages and CPU cycles. Many users didn't appreciate the power of Winamp 3 and preferred the small memory and CPU usage of Winamp 2 (or, *gasp*, turn to the dark side and use Windows Media Player instead).

Winamp 5 aimed to change this situation. By taking the Winamp 2 codebase and amplifying it with various Winamp 3 features, they sought to achieve the zen between the two versions. Winamp 5 (where Winamp 2 + Winamp 3 = Winamp 5) extended Winamp 2.x's functionality by adding support for the powerful media library, powerful XML-based skins and integrated CD ripping/writing support. Winamp 5 also offers a "Pro" version to purchase.

As of December 2003, what is the future of Winamp 5? We can only wait to see. (Personally, I really like it - it's powerful and is still impressively stable.)

Winamp is still availble free from http://www.winamp.com.

... the story will be continued as it develops ...

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