One of the web’s early software download bazaars, Tucows.com, has closed.
Originally named “The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software” and launched in 1993, the site came along just as the web erupted into the public imagination and as shareware became a popular tactic for software distribution and marketing. Initially running from a single PC in a library, the site’s thousands of downloads were accessible without n00b-intimidating FTP tools.
As web publishing became easier and search engines made it easier to find software from its source, the site’s utility declined. But for a good few years Tucows was a reliable source of the myriad utilities needed to access and use the early web, or to help stabilise a Windows 95 PC.
Tucows itself recognised that the downloads business wasn’t going to be a long-term thing and in the late 1990s and early 2000s went through a series of acquisitions and strategic shifts, eventually emerging as a domain registrar second only to GoDaddy.
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Through it all, the company kept the download service alive.
Until last week when the company announced the retirement of the service.
“For the past several years, history, well sentimentality, has been the only reason to keep Tucows Downloads around,” wrote CEO Elliot Noss, who cited the hassle of running legacy tech as the main reason for the service’s demise.
“Tucows Downloads is old,” he said. “Old sites are a maintenance challenge and therefore a risk. Maintaining the Tucows Downloads site pulls people away from the work that moves our businesses forward.”
“Tucows Downloads has had an incredible run,” he concluded. “Retiring it is the right move but that doesn’t alter the fact that it will always hold a special place in hearts and our story. We’re thankful to the thousands of software developers who used Tucows Downloads to get their software in front of millions of people, driving billions of downloads over more than 25 years.”
Happily, much of the site’s content has made the move to The Internet Archive. Noss’ post also explains that developers who relied on Tucows downloads have been thrown a lifeline by code signing supplier Sectigo. ®