• Rewind To: February 12, 2004 > When hope was restored
  • Rewind To: February 12, 2004 > When hope was restored
    Written by battye
    Sun Feb 15, 2009 9:56 am

    In the second edition of "Rewind To", we'll look at the day when hope was restored in the world of WinMX. On February 12, 2004 completely unexpectedly, Frontcode Technologies - the creators of WinMX - stunned everyone with a shock new release of the software.

    v3.31 was released on October 19, 2002. At the time it was just considered yet another in a series of regular updates and new versions. But as time went on, people became irritated as there were no new releases. There was nothing inherently wrong with v3.31, but there were some minor bugs and features that people did want added. Amongst the WinMXCommunity.com members, leeches filling the upload queue were priority number one (leeches, people that downloaded files but shared none themselves). LeechHammer updates had dried up, MxMoni updates were quickly going the way of the dodo, and people would have liked an inbuilt solution more than a third party add-on.

    With every passing month without word from Frontcode, more and more people had started to write the obituaries for WinMX. SlyckTom, from Slyck.com, always maintained that he was in contact with Frontcode president Kevin Hearn, even posting an interview with him in May 2003. The interview went on to say that WinMX v4 was being developed, built from the ground up and that while a WinMX v3.4 was close to completion it was decided that starting fresh was going to be a better idea.

    More months passed, with no updates to the WinMX website. Speculation began to mount that the Slyck interview was a fake, although apparantly dogmeat from the WinMXCommunity.com forums was convinced by SlyckTom that this was not the case.

    Yet out of the blue, on February 12, 2004 a new version of WinMX was released. WinMX v3.52 beta 1. A far cry from the v4 that had been promised.

    Even now looking back, it is hard to know whether the Slyck interview was genuine or not. Some things add up and others don't.

    v3.52 was an odd version to resume at, what happened to v3.50 and v3.51? Presumably in-house releases which never saw the light of day. However, while strange in one sense it does back up what was said in the interview about v3.4 being nearly released. Perhaps what happened was that Frontcode decided v4 was too difficult, and built on the previous work they had done on v3.4, and renamed it v3.5x in an effort to simply "get something out there".

    Eventually a Library feature (in v3.54 beta 1) did replace the Shared Files window, which could be a sign that a feature was backported from v4.

    What does not add up though is the significant delay. In the interview it was stated that they needed to scrap v3 and start afresh. Supposedly by May 2003 Frontcode were already several months into the development of v4! Why after so much work return to the old v3.x code?

    Overall, there is no way of knowing whether the interview was legit, but what v3.52 beta 1 did prove was that WinMX was still alive.

    Unfortunately there were no P2P discussion forums at CricketMX.com when the new WinMX version was released, and of course WinMXCommunity.com/Filebreech.com has long since gone. Slyck.com forums only have posts from mid-2004 onwards.

    But from what I remember at the time, there was a general feeling of happiness among the community. It wasn't what everyone was hoping for, because the only major change was an overhaul of the WinMX chat client. But it gave everyone hope that their favourite P2P program was still alive.

    4 months passed without any more news, no more betas. Any spirits that had been lifted soon dropped, but on June 13, 2004 finally beta 2 was released followed by a rapid succession of 6 betas in the following 2 weeks which took the community by storm. v3.53, out of beta, was released on July 2, giving the software its first official stable release in nearly 2 years.

    On the 9th of October Frontcode announced a new beta cycle for WinMX v3.54 - the major change for this version was the implementation of a brand new library system to replace the old Shared Files tab (perhaps backported from v4 as mentioned above?).

    THe v3.54 cycle had 3 betas in total, before the updates once again dried up. There was to be no remarkable comeback this time though, as the WinMX.com website confirmed in 2005 that the software was no longer available. This was in response to a cease and desist order from the RIAA on September 13, 2005.

    WinMX patches which enable the program to still work, even now over 3 years since its closure, are maintained by independent websites WinMX World and Vladd44.com.

    CricketMX.com: WinMX Version History
    Slyck.com: Kevin Hearn interview
    Afterdawn.com: WinMX v3.54 beta 3 version history
    Wikipedia.org: WinMX article
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