Windows Finally Adds Native Support for RAR Files
In a nutshell: More than three decades after its introduction, Microsoft has finally added native support for RAR files to Windows. The proprietary file archive format debuted in 1993 thanks to Russian software engineer Evgeny Roshal. Like ZIP, RAR – short for Roshal Archive – supports data compression, but adds error correction and file merging capabilities to the equation. It is because of the last feature that most people probably remember RAR.
In the early days of online file sharing, before fast internet connections, RAR file aggregation was commonly used to split large downloads like games or programs into several smaller pieces. This made it easier to get them over slower connections. Once you had all the individual pieces, a program like WinRAR was used to restore the file to its original state.
If something happened during the download process, you simply re-downloaded that piece instead of wiping your tablet and downloading the entire file again.
At its annual developer conference this week, Microsoft quietly announced that added built-in support for additional file formats including RAR, 7-zip, tar and gz on Windows 11 using the libarchive open source project.
Admittedly, built-in RAR support in Windows is not as important now as it would have been a few decades ago. Today’s fast internet connections mean that large files take minutes or hours to download, not days. Moreover, streaming has become a viable and legal alternative to piracy for in-demand media without worrying about the risk of infection. I personally can’t remember the last time I interacted with a RAR file, but maybe I’m in the minority?
Microsoft is also getting into the game very late as other operating systems such as ChromeOS have supported the format for a long time. But as they say, better late than never, right?
For those on earlier versions of Windows, there are still plenty of alternatives when working with RAR files. If you don’t like WinRAR, you might want to look into something like PeaZip or Zipeg. Both are free, support many formats, and are readily available for download.