A love letter to Winamp

Winamp - Still Awesome


Digital media is difficult to manage on the best of days. Organizing it in whatever format you decide to store, be it a Windoze box, a linux distro, or even a Macintosh is all your choice.

But what I’m asking for is how you play your files? The new de-facto standard seems to be itunes. Now, itunes has become the standard for mainly one reason: ipods and iphones automatically open that particular application because they were designed to work together. And because the parent company Apple likes it when their hardware and software talk with each other.

What everyone doesn’t realize is this: itunes eats up memory. LOTS of memory. When you think it’s just playing your songs, it’s doing other stuff in the background: if you’re using a smart playlist, it’s categorizing all other songs that fit whatever particular mood music you’re listening to. It’s caching all itunes store information in the background, putting up banner ads suited for you, checking and re-checking DRM purchases. It’s doing all this even when you put it into mini-player mode.

Here’s a solution: Use Winamp.  I never stopped using this thing since my University days because it was free, and my ancient PC could still run it with little to no problems.  And I always like the small footprint, it could sit at the very top of my screen taking up only a few pixels, yet managed to place as much useful information as a good old fashioned CD player could – with some added bonuses when you put the playlist  beside it.

And there’s some really good content on the Winamp startup wizard; the store while lacking some features we’ve all grown accustomed to has the basic packages you’re looking for: including some podcast features!

So rage against the machine, find your old music roots in Winamp and take back that extra Gig of memory and play your music with something that’s small, easy to use and has more features today than most other crappy music players.

Here’s a quick handy pro/con list for anyone that doesn’t want to read the top 6 paragraphs:


  Itunes Winamp
Ipod / Iphone support Yes Some versions support it
Average memory usage 1.0 GB – 1.8 GB Less than 10 MB
Playlists Yes Yes
Works on mobile devices All IOS (naturally) *All Droid phones
Wide Range of codecs Yes (kinda) Check out the forums – almost unlimited
Customizable? Kinda You betcha – Themes ahoy!
Video playback Yes Yes
Size of installer 170 MB + growing each update 10MB for full features, < 5MB for most basic pack
Annoying update engine? Yes Yes
Still better than RealPlayer? Yes Yes

*too bad for us blackberry users.  Then again, RIM is in trouble anyway for missing the boat on every consumer front possible.