Shh. Listen. Do you hear that? That noise is the sound of system builders around the world cheering, because they can finally cross WinRAR off the list of mandatory programs to install after setting up Windows. In addition to a slew of other new features heavily focused on AI frippery, Microsoft announced yesterday the next update to Windows 11 will add native support RAR, 7-Zip, GZ, and other common compression file formats.
Windows added support for the popular ZIP format way back in Windows ME, which is now older than some Grammy award-winners. But limitations of the format made alternatives like RAR a popular choice, even though it required extra software, like the commercial WinRAR (whose 30-day free trial was flagrantly abused by the majority of users, with memetic potential). 7-Zip, both the file type and the program, has become a popular free alternative. And will probably remain so, since its tight integration with the file manager is still the best way to actually manage compressed files.
Still, I’ve often said a measure of progress for an operating system is how it makes third-party tools unnecessary, so by that count, this is a big win for Windows 11. The added capability will be rolling out with version 22H2 Moment 3, which should be available later this week via Windows Update.