Winamp3 Makes its Official Debut

After two and a half years of development, AOL Music this week released the much-anticipated final version of Winamp3, the next-generation media player from Nullsoft. Winamp3 serves as a complete departure from its predecessor, rewritten from the ground up on an open coding platform dubbed Wasabi. New features in Winamp3 include video playback, free-form skinning, and a media library.

On the outside, Winamp3 keeps the familiar Winamp look, but the similarities end there. The new Wasabi platform enables developers to completely redesign Winamp's interface using XML-based skins and build custom component plug-ins that add new functionality to the media player. Users browse through installed components through a new window called the "Thinger."

Now fundamental to any media player, Winamp3's database-driven media library offers easy access to music and video files no matter where they are stored on a computer or the Internet. A new playlist editor adds improved sorting options and support for loading multiple playlists simultaneously

"Winamp3 introduces music fans to a whole new level of control over their entire media experience," said Kevin Conroy, SVP and General Manager of AOL Entertainment. "With built-in video support and total customization, fans can enjoy listening to music and watching video with one player that reflects their individual style and interests like never before."

Winamp3 first entered public testing in January, 2001 and reached beta status in October of that year. The road to release has been a long and arduous journey for Nullsoft, which has strived to keep up with competition and match the quality of its ubiquitous Winamp version 2. While competitors such as Microsoft and Real Networks draw on hundreds of software engineers, Nullsoft's fifteen person team has relied heavily on community support and beta testing.

As expected with any major change, early reaction to Winamp3 has been decidedly mixed. Although many Winamp users appreciate the advanced features found in the new release, some miss the speed and simplicity they have grown accustomed to with Winamp 2. But whatever the initial response, Nullsoft has proven it can -- and will -- continue to innovate, even in life after AOL.

"We'll work on the issues as they come up and we'll continue to include the changes to make this player better and better," wrote Winamp product manager Steve Gedikian in a recent journal entry.

Winamp3 and the Winamp3 SDK are available for downloaded via FileForum.

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