It took decades, but Microsoft has arrived at several zip formats, including 7z, tar, and gz.
In a move that may signal the beginning of the end, Microsoft has announced that the unthinkable is happening: It’s adding native support for 7z and rar file compression formats. It’s a seismic movement we’ve been waiting for for decades.
When I upgraded to Windows 11 last year, it wasn’t the centered taskbar or the compressed right-click menu that annoyed me first: it was the built-in unzipping tool. This brand new operating system from one of the world’s biggest companies is advanced enough to extract zip files – a compression format that debuted in 1989 – but rar files from 1993? It seems that 30 years and 12 distinct versions of Windows since then just haven’t been enough time to build support for this kind of advanced decompression.
And let’s not talk about 7z files. That compression format from 1999, the domain of open source champion 7-Zip?
A tectonic movement
So what if built-in Windows support for 7z could have removed the old zip format by now? Microsoft had higher priorities, like redesigning the right-click menu, so that even if you installed 7-Zip, it’s far more annoying to use than Microsoft’s built-in extractor.
But all that is about to be the old Windows 11. In the newest Windows 11 update, announced at Microsoft’s annual Build conference, there are a bunch of new AI features and “added native support for additional archive formats, including tar , 7-zip, rar, gz and more using the libarchive open-source project”. “You can now achieve improved performance of the archive functionality while compressing on Windows,” states the developer’s blog.
It’s not the kind of glamorous feature that will have CNBC anchors talking giddy about Microsoft’s stock price, but by God, it’s what Windows needs: a simple addition to core functionality that makes the operating system lighter and more pleasant to use.
The update will roll out to Insider preview builds of Windows “later this week.”
Leave a Reply