Softonic is five years old today

Softonic BirthdayIt’s time to celebrate, because today is Softonic‘s fifth birthday. The English version of Europe’s most popular software download site was launched exactly five years ago to this day.

Since the launch of Softonic, OnSoftware‘s parent site, the world of software has changed pretty significantly – and the site has evolved accordingly, of course. Back then, there was no such thing as an app store, Windows Vista was still a twinkle in Bill Gate’s eyes, Macromedia owned Flash, and Twitter would have sounded ridiculous.

Looking back at that first site, not only were we staggered by the shift in our design since then, we also noted interesting changes in the activity of our users. Back then, Winamp was far more popular than iTunes, our top downloaded files largely consisted of P2P and file sharing apps, and the Mac section attracted less of a share of downloads.

Softonic Old

We’ve witnessed, first-hand, a half-decade in which software has become such a huge part of daily life for many people throughout the world. From posting photos to Facebook, through downloading apps on an iPhone, to chatting to friends on Skype, software technology has become a desirable – if not essential – commodity  in the modern world.

But what have been the best apps we’ve tested in this last five years? Here’s what Softonic’s editors say, but we’d love to hear what yours are too.

Elena – Spotify

ElenaI love this program because it brings all the music I like right to my desktop – without having to buy or download anything. I have more music that I can listen to, and I can also discover new genres and new bands. The social features added in the last major update are great – you can “send” songs to friends and share your musical tastes on Facebook and Twitter. Plus you have different paid options to get rid of ads, or to have Spotify on your mobile device… In short, it’s a great app. I use it everyday, and I just love it.

Jon – VLC Media Player

JonMy choice would be VLC. That’s hardly a revolutionary idea, but it really is amazing application. Whether you use the Windows or OSX version, it’s simply the best video player available. Media applications had a tendency to be big, resource heavy apps full of unnecessary bells and whistles, like visualizations. VLC is lightweight and efficient, doing just what you want a media player to do. It’s one of my first installations on any new computer.

James – PS3 Media Server

JamesFive years ago there were no programs that let you access your computer from your PlayStation 3. In fact, five years ago, there were no PlayStation 3s. In 2010 I’m glad I have both. Not only do I have a kick-ass console with some great games, but I have a way to watch videos and listen to music that are on my computer, on my television in the comfort of my front room. Now, I can’t imagine a life without my PS3 or PS3 Media Server.

Niamh – Google Chrome

NiamhI’ve traditionally been a Firefox girl. Released in 2004, Mozilla’s browser just kept getting better and its success looked set to continue. Unfortunately, it didn’t, which is why the arrival of Chrome in 2008 is definitely my high point of the last five years. Chrome maintains the pace that Firefox set and so far, at least, hasn’t stagnated in the same way. Long may it continue!

Tom – Plex

TomI only recently started using this awesome media server, but it has become a permanent fixture on my Mac ever since. With a simple user interface controlled with the Apple Remote, Plex helps you organize all the movies, music and TV shows on your Mac, and provides a nice way of viewing them on a big screen. Thanks to Plex, a Mac Mini is now at the center of my home entertainment system. I adore the application for the simple reasons that it’s beautiful, very functional, and it’s free!

Nick – Firefox

NickAlthough Spotify would be my pick for pleasure, for pure practicality Firefox has been my trusty window on the internet for at least the past five years and counting. From blogging to reading and from downloading to working, Firefox is still my most essential tool, although with so many other great browsers competing with it nowadays, I’m not sure how much longer that will remain the case.

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