WinMX still alive?

WinMX screenshot click to enlarge

Is WinMX, Napsters heir and the toughest competition for Morpheus dead, or does it still live in the underground?

The company FrontCode developed this software as a client for the Open Nap network, just like the old Napster. After the Shut down of Napster and Scour, WinMX was the survivor and collected some of the broken pieces from the big Napster crash.

One of it's bigger goodies was the ability to connect to different servers simultaneously. This is called "Swarm-Download" these days. Files are downloaded in little chunks from different locations simultaneously.

May 2001 It changed to a proprietary protocol named WinXP Peer Network Protocol (WPNP). It changed several times according to the different updates, what made it hard for other client applications like Lopster to keep pace.

Another plus point was the complete absence of spy- and adware.

Until mid-2002 the amount of simultaneous users had reached the 1.5 million mark. It had a real community with user forums and ongoing development of the software.

This changed in 2003 without evident reason. From mid 2003 no update or improvement has been made to WinMX. Neither the network itself nor the client software have been updated.

After some minor improvements in summer 2004 nothing happened any more. No updates, no more improvements, nothing. Despite that, it still had it's community of heavy users.

On 20 September 2005 the homepage and the all important central servers have been shut down under legal pressure from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

As the structure of the WPNP needed the centralized host cache servers, the whole network was dead until a dedicated group of users, "The Source Code", has developed a host file that allows clients to connect to the network again.

Already at the 25 September 2005, users were able to download a working software patch for WinMX from two websites known as WinMX Group and Vladd44. These patches let WinMX look up the new peer caches set up by WinMX users, instead of the central servers that have been shut down.

This is the procedure in case you want to try.

1. Get the new host file from:

2. Now replace the "hosts" file in the following directories:

For Windows 95/98/Me:  c:\windows\hosts

For Windows NT/2000/XP-Pro:  c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

For Windows XP-Home:  c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

3. For Win2k & XP users it may be necessary to use the command "ipconfig /flushdns" from the command prompt.

4. Now, open the software and try to connect with primary connection!

While these patches seem to work pretty well, the future for WinMX is probably doomed already. Because it's a closed P2P network, no alternative clients could be developed and no source code is available to program future versions of this software.

Despite the common efforts of it's users, especially the Italian community, it seems to be inevitable that the whole network fades away sooner or later.

It's rather surprising that this network is still alive.

We will see how the thread of legal actions affect the Peer-to-peer file sharing business as a whole and how many other p2p services will follow the destiny of WinMX.