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Windows 11 will now support the .rar, .gz and .tar archive formats, 28 years after WinRAR first appeared on the scene. “Many more” formats are said to be supported with the move.

Under the motto, “better late than never”, Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 will include support for archive file formats. This is the first time it strays beyond simply supporting the .zip files that most Windows versions use natively for compression.

The move comes along with a raft of other announcements during Microsoft Build. While it may not be a headline-grabber, it will prevent users from having to install decompressors that are oftentimes used as a disguise for malware.


“Back in the ’90s, it [RAR] was just one of several competing compression apps (or “applications” as they were called back then) used to shrink collections of files so they could be more efficiently transferred over our woefully slow internet”, TechCrunch observes.

Users of WinRAR will be intimately familiar with the ‘Please purchase WinRAR license’ pop-up that keeps appearing. The message is easily ignored, but its constant nagging did lead some consumers to take action. Specifically, many users have resorted to using pirated shareware code simply to bypass the warning. Of course, the need to use compression apps like WinRAR has decreased over time. Both drive capacity and network bandwidth have increased since the late 1990s, making it surplus to requirements. Another popular alternative is 7-Zip, a free and open-source option.

Microsoft announced the new .rar file support feature almost as an afterthought in a recent announcement that mostly focussed mostly on bringing AI to Windows 11. “We have added native support for additional archive formats, including tar, 7-zip, rar, gz and many others using the libarchive open-source project”, the announcement states, adding that Windows 11 users “can get improved performance of archive functionality during compression on Windows”.