Top 10 downloads of past decade

Written by Geoff Richards

July 8, 2005 | 09:54

Tags: #acrobat #cnet #downloadcom #downloads #firefox #icq #itunes #napster #realplayer #skype #top-10 #winamp

Companies: #winzip

CNET, celebrating its 10th birthday this year, have announced the Top 10 downloads of the past 10 years. Opened way back in 1996, has grown from just a few thousand shareware programs to becoming one of the largest online distribution sites in the world for game demos, software and more recently, legal MP3 downloads.<b><ol><li>ICQ</li><li>Winamp</li><li>Napster</li><li>Firefox</li><li>WinZIP</li><li>iTunes</li><li>Ad-aware</li><li>Skype</li><li>RealPlayer</li><li>Adobe Acrobat Reader</li></ol></b>Looking at the list, I would bet many of you would have most of these currently installed on your PC at home. Napster came, went and was reborn but it isn't hard to see why these specific programs make up the Top 10 most popular downloaded.

Exact figures are hard to calculate, since most of the programs are listed separately by version, and only the current versions are available for download. However, with a bit of digging, we found Ad-Aware, in 7th place, has been downloaded at least 142 million times; WinZIP 9.0 at least 146 million times.

The top slot is occupied by ICQ, which has been available since 1997. The current v5.04 has clocked up 88 million downloads, reflecting ICQ waning dominance of the Instant Message market it invented some 8 years ago; there are now dozens of IM clients.

It wasn't always so. In June 2000, ICQ downloads from went past the 100 million mark, the first program to do so. Within two years, that figure had doubled to 200 million and in July 2002, ICQ was inducted into's Hall of Fame. Amazingly, ICQ Pro 2003b, not release until November 2002, has logged another 255 million downloads, according to the counter.

At the end of 2003, ICQ had over 160 million users, many of which would download the latest version when it became available. In total, would have served various versions of ICQ over 500 million times over the years. And that doesn't include people downloading it from other sources, or magazine cover discs (remember those?)

What's in your Top 10 downloads?
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