As those who know me will testify, I’m always the fan of the underdog - If there are two companies developing products then you’ll always see me routing for the smaller of the two for several reasons. I believe that as long as you have two serious competitors then a market will never become stagnant as there’ll always be someone upping the ante. In the business world a monopoly is a very dangerous thing for a company to hold and when I hear about a smaller company biting at the heals of a larger counterpart it brings a smile to my face.

This is especially true of Microsoft as although I will openly admit to using their products on a daily basis, I always want there to be someone to challenge them in everything that they do. This is why I want Sony to do well with the Playstation as then they will keep improving the Xbox, this is why I want Opera to keep developing their browser as then Internet Explorer will continue to grow and also why I want Linux to continue to evolve so they won’t be able to slow down on developing Windows.

It is because of this philosophy that I was glad to see a new version of WinAmp released as this is direct alternative to Windows Media Player which is the music player that’s installed as part of Windows. In contrast to the massive budgets that Microsoft put aside of Media Player, WinAmp has been put together by a handful of people and I don’t know if it’s just because I’m looking too hard but I actually feel that the authors have a sense of pride when they put the software together rather than it just being for money.

Anyway, enough of my anti monopoly ramblings, what can WinAmp offer you over Media Player which you will all have on your computer anyway? I’ll start by mentioning first of all that it’s completely free of charge as I realise that many of my readers stop reading unless I make this point abundantly clear!

First and foremost, is the Internet TV feature which I like…. Very much. Of course streaming video on the Internet is nothing new but Windows Media Player doesn’t have a feature as standard that allows you to view Internet TV channels directly from within the software. By clicking on Internet TV you are presented with a list of channels that are currently broadcasting and although some of it is absolute drivel (public access TV for example) there are some decent ones which I feel may be helping me through my working day from now on. So far this evening I’ve already seen a complete catalogue of Radiohead videos and the REM Unplugged sessions – Good stuff.

We also have inbuilt CD Ripping which allows you to copy any album that you legitimately own onto your harddisk with MP3 encoding as standard (Windows Media Player only lets you store files in their own WMA format).

Everything else is pretty similar to Media Player except just, in my opinion a little better and a little faster. We have visualisations, customisable skins, an equaliser, playlist editor and media library as well as all other features that you would expect a music/video player to have.

The program is, as mentioned above completely free of charge and you can choose which version you want to download with the lite version of the program only 0.6mg in size to download although this does have limited functionality so you may as well wait to download the full version which is 4mg in size. Visit to get going and whilst you’re there you should also take the time to download some cool visualisations and skins to add to your player.

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