8 Mostly Forgotten Windows Programs Still Around Today

Ben Stegner 21-07-2016

With the relatively short history of computers A Brief History of Computers That Changed the World You can spend years delving into the history of the computer. There are tons of inventions, tons of books about them – and that’s before you start getting into the finger-pointing that inevitably occurs when... Read More , it’s interesting to look back and see just how far we’ve come in a couple of decades. One area that particularly dates computing is software programs — their purposes, power, and looks have evolved greatly over time.


We’ve looked before at ancient Windows software that we still use today Remember These? 7 Ancient Windows Programs Still Used Today They say technology advances at an exponential rate. But did you know some programs have been around for multiple decades? Join us for a walk down Nostalgia Lane and discover the oldest surviving Windows programs. Read More , like Norton antivirus and the command prompt 15 Windows Command Prompt (CMD) Commands You Must Know The command prompt is still a powerful Windows tool. Here are the most useful CMD commands every Windows user needs to know. Read More , but not all software has stood the test of time — lots of famous programs no longer exist Blast from the Past: 7 Famous Programs & Games that No Longer Exist Do you remember the programs you were running in the 1990s? Join me as we take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how far we've come over the past two decades. Read More . Let’s look at older pieces of software that are still alive but have fallen from glory.

1. Napster (1999)

Initially, Napster was released as a peer-to-peer file sharing program, designed to let users share music, illegally for the most part. It marked an important step in the history of music consumption The Evolution of Music Consumption: How We Got Here The rise of the iPod, the music-playing mobile phone, and a number of streaming media platforms all point toward a single, simple idea: music is important. But how did we get here? Read More — while the iPod and the explosive popularity of having a collection of MP3s on the go was still a few years off, people still wanted to build an MP3 collection on their desktops.

Napster was only alive as a file sharing program for a couple of years, before it was (understandably) hit by multiple lawsuits and subsequently shut down. What you might not have known is that Napster is still an active service, albeit a completely different (and legal) one.

Looking up Napster now leads you to a run-of-the-mill music streaming service, just like Spotify or Apple Music Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music: Which Is Best? Here's our comparison of music streaming services Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music on price, quality, and catalog. Read More . Napster features apps for mobile devices as well as desktop, and offers all the standard features for its $10/month premium service, such as offline music. No matter what, it’s got to be better than SoundCloud Go’s disappointing plan Is SoundCloud Go Worth It? Everything You Need to Know SoundCloud Go is a new premium music streaming service designed to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, but is it worth paying for? Read More .

2. ZoneAlarm Firewall (2000)

Nowadays, Windows Firewall is pretty much the only firewall that the average user needs Which Free Firewall For Windows Is Best For You? We place emphasis on antivirus and malware removal, but don't ignore firewalls. Let's take a look at the best free Windows firewalls, comparing ease of setup, ease of use, and availability of features. Read More , but when ZoneAlarm launched, it was pretty popular with users who wanted to lock down exactly what information could come and go on their system. If you used early versions of ZoneAlarm, you know what it was like to see constant pop-ups asking you to police Internet traffic — kind of like when User Account Control goes overboard Stop Annoying UAC Prompts - How To Create A User Account Control Whitelist [Windows] Ever since Vista, we Windows users have been pestered, bugged, annoyed, and tired of the User Account Control (UAC) prompt telling us a program is starting up that we intentionally launched. Sure, it has improved,... Read More these days.


When ZoneAlarm first launched, it wasn’t as common for software to access the Internet constantly, so it made more sense to keep an eye on the goings-on. Nowadays, every app on your PC wants to hit the Internet all the time, so using this type of strict firewall wouldn’t really work well. However, ZoneAlarm is still alive, despite being owned by a different company.

Currently, ZoneAlarm’s main page advertises their mobile security apps, but a mobile antivirus isn’t a necessity Do You Need Antivirus Apps on Android? What About iPhone? Does Android need antivirus apps? What about your iPhone? Here's why smartphone security apps are important. Read More . The company also sells premium antivirus and firewall software, but most paid antivirus products really aren’t worth the asking price. The free firewall is only compatible with Windows Defender, which isn’t a good enough antivirus The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10 Want to tighten security on your PC? Here are the best antivirus software options for Windows 10. Read More . So, it seems that your system is better off without ZoneAlarm products in 2016.

3. LimeWire / FrostWire (2000)

LimeWire had a similar story to Napster — it was conceived as a peer-to-peer file-sharing program How P2P (Peer to Peer) File Sharing Works Wondering what peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing is and how it got started? We explain what you should know. Read More , but this one was for more than just music. LimeWire allowed users to share movies and other files, leading to viruses being spread through the system at times. The program was written in Java The Web Just Became More Secure: Google Drops Support for Java When Java was first released in 1995, it was revolutionary. But now, it's safe to say that Java has lost its shine, and Google is about to drop support for it in Chrome. Read More , which allowed it to be deployed on multiple operating systems.


After predictably running into legal issues, LimeWire was shut down in 2010. However, the program is still alive in a different form today — FrostWire. A group of developers forked Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More LimeWire and created this alternative piece of software in 2004 that was initially quite similar to the original, but gained new features and became its own entity over time.

Nowadays, FrostWire can only be used for BitTorrent 8 Legal Uses for BitTorrent: You'd Be Surprised Like HTTP, which your browser uses to communicate with websites, BitTorrent is just a protocol. You could use your browser to download pirated content, just as you could use a BitTorrent client to download pirated... Read More , so it doesn’t have all the functionality of LimeWire, but the idea lives on. You could consider this a cousin of LimeWire.

4. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) (1997)

At one time, AIM was the coolest messenger in town. Everyone had a screen name, and those classic sounds let us know when someone was online or responding to our message.

AIM was incredibly popular when AOL was the way to get online, and into the mid-2000s its reign continued. However, like MySpace and other huge platforms of the time Whatever Happened To…? Following Up On Major Websites From The Dotcom Boom Many of you remember the Dotcom Boom that happened in the late nineties. All it took to make your stock go up was a ".com" or an "e-" attached to your company's name. Of course,... Read More , as the 2000s came to a close, so did the popularity of AIM.


AIM is still around today, updated with modern features like group conversations and social media integration. The question is, is anybody that you know still using it? Since they’re probably using one of the many free messaging apps 5 Best Free Messaging Apps for Android Need a free way to send messages to friends and family with your phone for free? Check out these apps. Read More available cross-platform these days, AIM’s loss of popularity doesn’t hurt too badly.

You can relieve the experience of using this retro messenger 4 Retro Games That Feel Like Using An Old Computer You can't really travel back in time, but here's a bunch of games that re-create that ancient Internet feeling quite nicely. Read More by checking out the game Emily is Away, which recreates the tension of being a high school student who chats with his crush on AIM.

5. Winamp (1997)

Winamp, a media player app, was one of the most popular pieces of software in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its freemium model Why You'll Never Stop Seeing Ads & IAPs in Mobile Apps Advertisements and in-app purchases in mobile apps and games can be really annoying. Unfortunately, they won't be going away any time soon. Here's why. Read More (shareware in the early days) meant that users could take advantage of it for free, but had to pay to unlock extra features. Winamp solved a problem when MP3s were becoming popular — with so much music hanging out on your PC, it was hard to manage everything The 4 Best Tools to Manage Your MP3 Music Collection These are the best tools to manage your MP3 collection, helping you cure your music library management headaches. Read More .

When Winamp arrived with plug-ins, cool visual effects, and easy ways to manage your library, everybody loved it. However, it was eventually purchased by AOL, and began to go downhill.


Nowadays, tools like Winamp are still useful Winamp - A Solid Media Player That Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows] Winamp is a Methuselah among the third party Windows media players. First released in 1997 and originally developed by Nullsoft, it has become a subsidiary of AOL in the meantime. However, it hasn't lost any... Read More if you have a large collection of MP3s on your desktop, but with the rise of Spotify Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify is no longer content to just compete with radio, now they're competing with the idea of even owning music. Read More and other streaming services even putting a dent in iTunes’s music management, young computer users probably have no use for Winamp.

The software is still available to download, but the official Winamp site has a “Coming Soon” message displayed, letting you know that they’re working on improving the program.

6. Ecco Pro (1993)

Unlike most of the other entries on this list, Ecco Pro is still available in its ancient form — it hasn’t evolved as time went on. Released as personal information management software which allowed you to take notes and keep track of appointments, it was discontinued by its developers when Microsoft Outlook arrived as part of the Office suite 20 Historical Microsoft Office Facts You Forgot Or Never Knew The Microsoft Office suite turned 25 this year. The world has changed since digital presentations, word processing, and spreadsheets became a thing. Do you remember how it all began? Read More and made Ecco obsolete.

Strangely, a group of dedicated users have made an effort to keep this dilapidated software around. Titled EccoProX, it looks just like it did in 1997, but works on everything from Windows XP up to Windows 10.

Oddly, you’ll have to pay a $20/year “EccoPro Support Membership” fee to download the software. Unless you’re curious and have extra money, stick with using Outlook online Microsoft Outlook Web Vs. Desktop: Which One Is Best for You? is a powerful online email client that comes free with Office Online. But can Outlook on the web compete with its desktop counterpart? Our Outlook comparison will help you decide for yourself. Read More for free, as it includes everything you’ll need and doesn’t look like it belongs on Windows 95 Start Me Up - Windows 95 Turns 20 & Still Rocks 20 years ago the Rolling Stones cranked up "Start Me Up", and Windows 95 was born. We revisit history, discuss why Windows 95 was a big deal, and how it compares to Windows today. Read More .

7. RealPlayer (1995)

At one time, RealPlayer was revolutionary. It let you stream media, such as baseball games, and was really the first of its kind. However, it was less than a joy to use, as it was filled with bugs, constant crashes, and privacy issues.

Amazingly, this ancient relic still exists in 2016. My colleague Matt recently covered his attempt to use RealPlayer on Windows 10 RealPlayer Still Exists, But Does It Still Suck? RealPlayer still exists, but the RealPlayer of 1998 couldn’t be more different than the RealPlayer of 2016. It still sucks, but it's worth looking at how things have changed over the years. Read More and came to the unsurprising conclusion that it’s a pretty lousy piece of software. It’s filled with the usual junkware during the install OpenCandy: The Reason You Should Never Just Click "Next" Clicking "next" repeatedly is the quickest way of installing apps on Windows - until you find you installed other programs on your computer without realizing it, thanks to OpenCandy. Let's do something about that. Read More , system-breaking crashes, and a general sluggishness. RealPlayer should have stayed stuck in the past; there are far better media players 5 Alternatives to Windows Media Center for Windows 10 Windows 10 will offer many new features, but some old favorites will be deprecated. The Windows Media Center will no longer be supported. Here are alternative media center application compatible with Windows 10 to take... Read More .

8. Google Toolbar (2000)

Toolbars generally carry a poor connotation — annoying toolbars that are foisted on you 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars and How to Get Rid of Them Browser toolbars just don't seem to go away. Let's look at some common nuisances and detail how to remove them. Read More , like Ask or Conduit, are nothing more than junkware. However, legitimate toolbars, similar to Windows software that has been succeeded by new features 5 Legendary Windows Tools Replaced by New Features Windows includes lots of tools that you use every day, but some have lasted longer than others. Here are parts of Windows that don't exist anymore. Read More , are a great example of functionality that used to require an extra download but is now built into modern tools.

The Google Toolbar is one of these. When it was first released, it was actually useful. After all, in those days, Firefox wasn’t out yet, and browsers didn’t have built-in functionality to search Google or other providers in a dedicated bar. Having the ability to search Google without navigating to its webpage and a built-in auto-fill feature was cool. So, why is the Google Toolbar still available for download in 2016?

If you visit the page using Chrome, Google tells you that everything in the Google Toolbar is already built into your browser 11 Quick Tricks To Become A Chrome Omnibox Power User Do you want to become an Omnibox power user and save plenty of time and keystrokes? All you need are a few good extensions and a little knowledge of how to tweak the search settings.... Read More . But it’s still available to download for Internet Explorer, even though the latest version (IE 11) Why You Should Upgrade To Internet Explorer 11 Now Restoring Internet Explorer to a browser that people actually wanted to use was always going to be a hard road, but it's just possible that with Internet Explorer 11 this stage has been reached. Read More allows you to search Google from a dedicated search bar.

Unlike the Yahoo Toolbar, the Google Toolbar doesn’t seem to survive from junkware installs How To Clean A Hijacked Web Browser What's more frustrating than launching Firefox only to see that your homepage has been changed without your authorization? Maybe you've even got a shiny new toolbar. Those things are always useful, right? Wrong. Read More , as you almost never see it bundled with other software. This one is a mystery, and unless you still have to use IE 6 How to Download IE6 and Other Old Versions of Internet Explorer Here's how to download old versions of Internet Explorer, such as IE6 and IE8, if you really need them for some reason. Read More for some awful reason, there’s really no reason to use the Google Toolbar.

Gone, and Basically Forgotten

It’s amazing how many different pieces of software come and go from the public eye. While most of these tools were popular at one point, they either got sold out to another company, halted development, or just gave way to more modern tools. It’s fun to look back and remember what was. Now, if only those annoying Windows features nobody needs Here Are 5 Annoying Windows Features Nobody Needs Windows is great at its core, but some features are over the top. We'd be happy to see them removed. Which Windows features would you like to get rid of? Read More could join this list…

Interested to take a trip into more forgotten software? Check out retired Windows features we wish never existed 6 Retired Windows Features We'd Rather Forget Windows has gone through a lot of features over the years. Here are a few nobody really misses. Do you remember them? Read More .

What other software that used to be popular is still around today? What programs that are common nowadays do you think will be on a list like this in 20 years? Add to the list down in the comments!

Image Credits:girl blows off a dust by Vikulin via Shutterstock

Related topics: AOL Instant Messenger, Nostalgia, Winamp.

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  1. Dr. Internet
    December 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    WinAmp may be mature software and have a few bugs, but it is still the best for managing and playing .mp3 files. I have been a user since '97 and it still works fine on my Win7 desktop. There is also an Android version that runs find on my Note4.

  2. Anonymous
    July 28, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Move on people!

    Wanting to go back is good for physical classics like cars, bikes, etc., but with the advancement in hardware and operating systems and with the new features and ecosystem, the software programs cannot live up to see the days of the future.

    Everything has a limited lifespan though it might have garnered a lot of interest and usage! Let's reserve all those accolades to the junkware kind of sites and not on make use of! Here it has a reputation of providing fantastic tips, suggestions, read-abouts about the current trend and issues / problems people face and how to solve'em. We don't want to read history here.

    Yes, I am an old-schooler who has been using computer since Atari days! But, I've learned to move on and stick with the current trend (though the memory still lives on, but don't want to waste time on reading it again on make use of!. Let the current generation kids be known about what is current. Do we really worry about or learn about World War 1 or 2 in detail? We know shit happened and that's it! Nobody forced us to learn what happened everyday during our early days!!! Our forefathers knew it's of no use to us. Why aren't we letting the current generation be what they are??? We are the 70s 80s 90s and early people and if the current younger generation doesn't knew about a cassette recorder, let them be. It's of no use to them. They'll probably come to know about it one day when they visit it in the museum, but we don't want make use of to be the curator. They are people who have done it and doing it! Enough said! Thanks.

    • Tim
      July 28, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      I agree, except for vinyl records. those will always be keepers. Nothing like that crackling sound when the needle hits the groove.

      • Tek
        July 29, 2016 at 7:29 am

        Needles are for the classic 78 RPM 10 inch disks from the 50's - many of which are great listening (those in my collection anyway!).
        For Hi-Fi STEREO 12 inch vinyls, real audiophiles use STYLUS pick-ups' tracking at very light weight 0.75 ~ 1.5 grammes depending on how warped the playing surface is.
        45 RPM singles are more forgiving.
        A little off topic but couldn't resist opportunity for edifying the uninitiated. :))

    • usman
      February 22, 2019 at 3:33 am

      its not correct with all things , actually some of the pioneer softwares of there kind are still the best in appearance userfriendly and features .cpu ,memory load , if im giving chance i will still use msn yahoo which was way better then skype whtsapp viber even if u still compare there interference how they were made , the technology is different thing which develops evolve with time and its separate segment which all softwares get it with time of that certain erra . for example if msn existed today , it would have all the features of current time that skype viber gives with its other good aspects, or if skype existed 15 years ago then it would not have this advancement , its about brand and product too. but today we lack in creativity and appearance functions etc if u compare it with past even with limited technology they were far well made . In some cases when technology didnt updated much , those old things still are better for example in some cars , even if u have any new brand with latest dashboard still th performance of old toyata was better , i mean new tech do not make up for xfactor... performance and creativity and craft how certain brand is made , both r separate departments , in mp3 players there is no new technology so still im using winamp , i hve tried all new ones and none is lighter more user friendly easy to manage then winamp .

  3. JD
    July 27, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    The bit about Ecco Pro and Outlook supposedly replacing it is simplistic and wildly inaccurate.

    Ecco Pro was/is an outliner-based PIM. OmniFocus on Mac and MyLifeOrganized on Windows/Android/iOS would better comparisons than Outlook, for the outline-based task and project management features.

    A lot of people also use Ecco Pro to keep reference information, in a way comparable to Evernote use cases.

    The calendar, contact, task, and email features in Ecco Pro were not a primary reason many people stuck with Ecco and a hardcore following still does. The outlining, folders, custom views, and automatic syncing of Ecco databases between computers were the unique and valuable features. For me, a past heavy user of Ecco, I have replaced its functionality with a combination of MyLifeOrganized (MLO) on Windows for task management, and Evernote for capturing and maintaining reference information. Quite often I copy an Evernote note's "Note Link" and paste it into a task in MLO, to allow clicking in MLO to bring up the referenced note in Evernote.

    That said, if I want to brainstorm an outline, I will often bring up Ecco Pro for that, and later paste information from it to Evernote.

    • Kev Richards
      January 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      I havent found anything better than Eccopro as an outliner that can organise and shift around large amounts of text. I still use it for keeping track of correspondence with the tax office for example. Plus it is not easily read by internet spies as the file is in unreadable code. What stops me from using it for all my notes is that I cannot even read the Ecco file on my Android phone or tablet.

  4. Michael
    July 27, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I still use MS Picture It! An excellent basic photo editor.

  5. TwistedTrunk
    July 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

    ICQ, mIRC!

  6. Khai Bach
    July 22, 2016 at 7:02 am

    "If your player has a built in “library,” it’s got way too many features."

    when you have a massive collection on HD, a built in library is a must for helping to organise and find tracks.....

  7. staqUUR
    July 22, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Just one comes to mind: XTree Gold.

    Check out its incredibly powerful successor, ZTree ( Still a textmode app, though.

    There`s a sort of fork of Winamp, foobar2000. It's one of the few things that still keeps me tied to Windows.


    • Anonymous
      July 26, 2016 at 3:39 am

      I Still Use XTREE On Occasion.

      I Use ZTREE All The Time.

      Sometimes I Use STREAMSQUID For Music, But WINAMP Is Still My Favorite Player.

      Awesome Ride On Memory Lane.

  8. Anonymous
    July 22, 2016 at 4:13 am

    How about Yahoo Messenger ? Need it be included in your list ?

  9. HildyJ
    July 22, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Don't forget MS Office competitors. While IBM officially ended support for Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect is alive, if not especially well:

  10. Anonymous
    July 21, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    I replaced Winamp with Spider Player (there's a free "pro" key on the developer's site). With HD Audio support, a portable (unzip and go) version, and a few Winamp 2.x skins (fully supported), I don't need any other player. If your player has a built in "library," it's got way too many features.