28 years later, Windows finally supports RAR files

It was 1999, and my friends and I were surfing warez pages using Internet Explorer on our 98SE gaming device. Finally, we bypass scams and porn to find a list of files on the FTP server, labeled “.rar, .r00, .r01, r.02…” But these are What the hell?

“Oh, it’s segmented. You have to download this program to extend them, it’s called WinRAR. Much better than WinZip.”

“Do we have to pay for it?”

“No… but if you’re as cheap as I think it is, it will continue to bug you for a quarter of a century until, in the grim darkness of 2023, Windows 11 finally supports the format natively. “

Reflecting on your friend’s comment, I was surprisingly predictive. How can he know how grim and dark the future will be? How can he predict that Windows will revert to ordinal numbering, but skip 9? And how did he know that I’m so frugal, we can say frugal, that instead of paying $30, I’ll try to fulfill my duty in WinRAR for more than two decades enough quickly so that the pop-up “Please buy WinRAR license” does not appear’ has no chance to appear?

Well, it took more than three decades for the .rar file to finally be supported in Windows without any kind of additional software. Back in the 90s, this was just one of several competing compression applications (or as they were called “apps”), with the aim of shrinking sets of files so that they could be transferred efficiently. over our slow internet.

How long does it take us to download the Star Trek for After Dark screensaver from BBS dial up, using the WhiteKnight telnet app, you ask? Overnight. After all, that’s a shade over five megabytes. But if it wasn’t a .sea (self-extracting archive) provided by Stuffit we would have had to wait a long time the next day.

Yes, back then compression was a must, in my case as a young software piracy but of course in more legitimate ways like software distribution and “archiving” purposes. ” reality. I can’t say if WinRAR is popular among businesses and among people buying pirated games and apps. But the fact is that it has been around for a full 30 years from its initial development as a DOS program (28 years since it appeared on Windows), until its most recent release – last week, and still almost small enough to fit a 3.5-inch hard drive. floppy disk – shows it has found its niche.

However, as time has passed, the need for applications like WinRAR has decreased, as both disk space and network bandwidth have increased exponentially. Some megabytes that used to take me all night to download and take up a significant portion of my hard disk are now just the bare minimum to transfer in one go. Monday if you want to call your connection “broadband”. Furthermore, open source standards and options have evolved rapidly, such as freelance project.

Then, at some point, someone at Microsoft must have been fed up with rushing to run .rar the way I’ve been for 20 years and thought, there must be a better way. And so, under the subheading “Reducing Toil,” we had a couple of useful UI updates, then coincidentally and not surprisingly, this:


We have added native support for additional archive formats, including tar, 7-zip, rar, gz and many more using the open source project libarchive. You can now improve the performance of archiving during compression on Windows.

Of course, the library has been integrated with other operating systems for a long time, and native support for .rar files is old for many people. But for me personally, this change is epochal.

I’ve been finding ways to use WinRAR for years, some legal, some…probably most illegal. And I’ve never forgotten that, while pirating, I’m actually a pirate, as I’ve been several decades past the end of my 40-day WinRAR trial. When my agility is lacking (my APM has dropped late), I’ll see that nagging screen and think: am I really that petty? Will I really continue to abuse this poor shareware for the rest of my life? When am I going to put myself on the straight and narrow path again (if I’ve been on it in the first place) and create an honest WinRAR application?

Reader, I bought WinRAR.

Image credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

It seems fair that I pay the cost of a coffee — you know, about $31 today — to support a piece of software that is one of the very, very few that will be with me for most of my life. use your computer. Few other programs are regular companions, though I would pay for Winamp if I could.

(Plus, I haven’t updated to Windows 11 and will update until there are no other options, so I don’t get the benefit of this particular integration.)

I don’t know what the future holds for WinRAR; I asked the company what they think Windows officially adopting this format will mean for their software and business, and will update if I get a response.


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