Earlier this week, a new version, 5.66, of the long running Winamp media player was released by AOL. It is also the last version that the company will release, as it announced that the client won't be updated and will no longer be made available for download by AOL after December 20th.
However, there might be some hope for the 15-year old program with a llama obsession. TechCrunch reports, via unnamed sources, that Microsoft is in talks with AOL that could result in Winamp being acquired by Microsoft, along with AOL's Shoutcast media streaming service. Both companies declined to offer an official comment on the report.
Winamp was first released in 1997 by programmer Justin Frankel, and was one of the first software programs that made it easy to play digital music on a PC. Frankel later co-founded the company Nullsoft (which, ironically, was meant to be a parody of Microsoft) in 1997.
In 1999, Nullsoft was acquired by AOL for $80 million and Frankel went to work for new corporate masters. However, he quickly ran into conflicts with his new employer when he released the peer-to-peer software program Gnutella in 2000. It was a hugely popular application but it was developed and released without AOL's prior knowledge. From then on, Frankel and AOL's relationship was hostile, as the company continued to shut down programs that Frankel released on his own.
In 2004, Frankel finally departed AOL and has continued to release new software products, while AOL kept releasing new versions of Winamp without him. When news of Winamp's shutdown hit the Internet this week, Frankel posted word on his Twitter feed that he really didn't care:
I'm very much not upset about Winamp in the slightest. The loss for me was in 2004 when I had to stop working on it and start fresh...— Justin Frankel (@JustinFrankel) November 23, 2013
Even if Microsoft does acquire Winamp from AOL, there's no guarantee that the company will continue to support and release new versions of the software. In 2012, Microsoft acquired 900 patents from AOL for $1.1 billion, which included the Netscape patent rights, but not the actual brand name.
Source: TechCrunch | Image via AOL