Is Microsoft courting AOL for Nullsoft’s Winamp?

Yesterday, the world discovered that Winamp was going away on December 20th 2013; however, over the past 15 hours rumors started to circulate the internet about AOL’s plans to sell Winamp to Microsoft.

Ingrid Lunden of Techcrunch broke the story to the web last night and since then the Twittersphere has been in a frenzy about the whole thing.

I would like nothing better than to fire up my copy of Windows 8.1 and see Winamp strutting it’s llama butt on my desktop.

Windows Media Player sucks – partially because of the dearth of codec support and also because of its large footprint.  Conversely, Winamp has a slim physique and doesn’t munch my memory like Windows Media Player. Also Winamp has some of the coolest skins on earth; heck, that alone could be a sufficient criterion for loving Winamp.

That being said, I wanted to see if I could find out more information about the rumor.  I wanted facts, something substantive that would either fortify or weaken my belief that Microsoft made an overture to AOL for Winamp.

So I googled this:

microsoft winamp

After giving the search engine results a cursory read, I noticed something odd along the bottom of my screen:

Microsoft Wants Winamp

The title says “Winamp Web site – Microsoft” and it’s on the Microsoft.com domain.

I mused to myself: that’s weird.

The entire page isn’t indexed though because the Microsoft content publishers added robots.txt to the post with a Disallow rule designed to block all content on the site.

Microsoft robots

Whenever a search engine crawls the web for new pages to index, it checks to see if robots.txt exists.  If it exists, the search engine usually honors the content creators wish that the site should be skipped during indexing.

robots.txt is something that a webmaster drops in the folder root when when they want to block certain content from leaking into the search engine results page of major search providers.

Google honors robots.txt files so you may be wondering why it showed up in my results page?

It’s most likely because someone on the internet linked to that page.  When the GoogleBot finds other pages linked to the page robots.txt is trying to block, it includes the anchor text in the search results but still obfuscates the content.

That’s what I think happened here.

The interesting thing is if you click the link it redirects to Winamp’s homepage.

Microsoft redirects to Winamps homepage

I think this is a cogent indicator that Microsoft is going to purchase or already has purchased Winamp from AOL and is simply tying up the loose ends.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments.

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