At a Glance
- Faster engine
- Better previews
- Integrated cloud service
- Doesn’t support common applications
Winzip 16 piles on the features, including a cloud-based service and a 64-bit engine.
Since backwards compatibility may be more important in
compression software than in any other major category of desktop
program, new editions of archiving and compression tools have to
focus more on the ancillary features than on their core competency.
WinZip 15 continues this trend, with the bulk of new features
focusing on ease-of-use and integration with the operating system.
This isn’t a criticism: When a 1TB hard disk costs about the same
as movie tickets for two with drinks and popcorn, a new algorithm
that squeezes 1% more compression out of a file is a lot less
useful than a new interface option that makes it quicker and easier
to use the compression in the first place.
WinZip 15 has a clean, accessible, interface, following the
standard “Button Bar” approach started with Office 2007. The icons
are large and clear, and it’s usually easy to find the commands
you’re looking for.
The most visually obvious new feature is the desktop “gadget,” a
large (about twice the size of an icon) drag-and-drop target for
your Windows desktop. Drag files onto the “Zip/Unzip” tab to zip
and unzip, or to the “Zip & Email” tab to zip and e-mail. It’s
very convenient to use this when you’ve got the files you want to
work with displayed in your Explorer window… but since this
functionality is also available from a right-click menu in
Explorer, if you’re already at the file to drag it to the desktop
gadget, you can access the same function without dragging. If a
user doesn’t have access to right-click functionality, I suppose
this could be helpful, but, otherwise, I don’t see what I get by
dragging files to the gadget.
A much more useful feature is the enhancement to e-mail. WinZip
now supports Outlook, Hotmail, and Gmail handlily, and adding my
Gmail account was quick and easy. The settings for these common
programs are pre-defined; however, almost any other mail program
can be added quickly. You can also define multiple e-mail addresses
As a final note, the under-the-hood architecture of WinZip has
been modified in version 15 to make it easier to develop add-ons
and functionality plug-ins; how this will play out over time
remains to be seen.
If the bulk of what you do is unzip files for your own use, it’s
hard to see how any of the enhancements will dramatically impact
you. WinZip 15’s cleaner interface and improved e-mail features may
both be useful if you do a lot of creating and distributing of .zip
files, however. In addition, users of previous versions get a 50%
discount on the cost of WinZip 15 as of this review’s posting.