Developers revive Winamp struggling with Visual Studio 2008 upgrade to 2019
Last week, the news came out that the famous Windows media player Winamp had been revived after four years of work by developers, whose biggest problem was upgrading the project from Visual Studio 2008 to Visual Studio 2019.
After debuting in 1997 — when users were likely using Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 and using it to listen to MP3 music files — the media player has undergone ownership changes and experienced a blotchy release history, according to Wikipedia. Owner Radionomy released v5.8 in 2018 while announcing that v6 would ship in 2019, but it didn’t.
Instead, Winamp 5.9 RC1 was quietly released on July 26, the only indication being a forum post from DJ Egg, a “techorator” of the Winamp & Shoutcast team.
“This is the culmination of 4 years of work since the release of 5.8,” said DJ Egg. “Two development teams, and a pandemic-induced hiatus between them.”
Along the way, developers ran into some problems, not least upgrading the project — written in C/C++ — from the Visual Studio 2008 base to Visual Studio 2019. That meant skipping VS 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2017. That led to some challenges, which is not surprising.
“To the end user, it may not seem like there are a whole bunch of changes,” said DJ Egg, “but the biggest and most difficult thing was to migrate the entire project from VS2008 to VS2019 and have it all build successfully.”
As much as Visual Studio Magazine readers know that with any complicated project, “successfully building everything” can be a maddening experience. It follows that skipping four Visual Studio versions could be a development nightmare. One specific, albeit minor, issue is this: “Unicode support in Plush was broken during the migration to VS2019.”
DJ Egg asked users to test all of Winamp’s features, but asked if they would do so on Windows 7 – 8.1, “if possible”. While this reporter thought that might be a big question in the Windows 11 era, StatCounter data says Windows 7 accounted for nearly 12 percent of all current Windows PCs in July 2022, almost exactly the same percentage as Windows 11 Windows 8.1 had less than 3 percent market share.
At the very least, this reporter can confirm that Winamp will be installed and loaded on Windows 10 by presenting the user with a short “Llama Whippin’ Intro” audio file by corporate mascot DJ Mike Llama, which dramatically states, “Winamp, the really hits the llama’s ass” (referring to the Wesley Willis song “Whip the Llama’s Ass”).
Going forward: “The foundation is now laid and we can now focus more on features,” said DJ Egg, “whether repairing/replacing old ones or adding new ones.”
This item is specifically on the list of things to fix for the next public build:
While not included in the Winamp distribution, some plugins with a dependency for msvcr90.dll are “not loaded”.
The VS2008 Microsoft.VC90.CRT runtime is no longer provided/required/loaded automatically with Winamp 5.9
(VC142 runtime is now installed on Win7-8.1)
Of course, VS 2019 may now be considered old technology by some, with VS 2022 arriving in November 2021.
It is unknown if the next development cycle will switch to the latest Visual Studio version. If so, the migration – and successful builds – will probably be a lot easier.
David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.