With the numerous innovations for Microsoft Build 2023, it almost went under. Panos Panay, head of the Windows and Devices product department, only casually hinted with a subordinate clause in the Miscellaneous section of the Windows Developer that the developers are massively expanding the integrated Windows ZIP tool and support significantly more archive and compression formats.
In the Build Conference blog post, Panay explains, “We’ve added native support for additional archive formats including .tar, 7-zip, .rar, .gz, and many others by leveraging the open-source libarchive project. You get now an improved performance of the archive functions during compression under Windows”.
Windows ZIP-Tool: Neue Formate
The open source project libarchive supports numerous formats that Windows can at least unpack without additional programs. The library can both unpack and build .tar, .pax, cpio, .iso (ISO9660), .zip, mtree, .ar, .xar, 7-Zip and WARC formats. libarchive can only unpack the formats .lha, .lza, .rar (original format and RAR v5) and .cab.
The installation of other compression programs such as 7-Zip, WinRAR or similar is not necessary for most Windows users. Only special cases then require specialized software. libarchive also promises further improvements. In addition to zipcrypt, which is considered insecure, the library can also use WinZip AES 128 and 256 encryption, but the old Windows ZIP cannot. It is also designed to be thread safe, except on platforms where the C library does not offer this. Microsoft has not said anything about this so far, but there is hope that Windows will be able to use more than just one processor core for archive processing in the future. That would match the promised better compression performance.
It is currently unclear when exactly the extended archive support will be available to everyone. In the blog post, Panay explains that some of the features featured in it are coming with a new Windows Insider Preview this week. However, the Moments 3 update for Windows 11 may already include the improved Windows ZIP.
What is Microsoft planning for the future? Which topics are important this year?
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