In a significant move for Windows users, Microsoft has finally introduced native support for RAR files in its latest operating system, Windows 11. RAR, short for Roshal Archive, is a proprietary file archive format that made its debut in 1993. Developed by Russian software engineer Eugene Roshal, RAR offers data compression along with error correction and file spanning capabilities. While the arrival of native RAR support may not be as groundbreaking as it would have been decades ago, it still brings convenience to users who encounter RAR files from time to time.
The Legacy of RAR File Spanning:
Back in the earlier days of online file sharing, when speedy internet connections were scarce, RAR file spanning played a crucial role. Large downloads like games or programs were split into multiple smaller chunks, making them more manageable to acquire over slower connections. This innovative functionality allowed users to download individual pieces and then reconstruct the complete file using software like WinRAR. If any part of the download was interrupted or corrupted, users only needed to re-download the affected piece, avoiding the need to start the entire download process from scratch.
Microsoft’s Announcement and Integration for RAR Files:
During its annual developer conference, Microsoft quietly revealed the addition of native support for various file formats, including RAR, 7-zip, tar, and gz, to Windows 11. This support was made possible through the integration of the libarchive open-source project. Although other operating systems like ChromeOS have supported RAR files for quite some time, Microsoft’s inclusion of native RAR support in Windows 11 brings it up to par with these systems, albeit later.
The Changing Landscape and Reduced Significance:
It’s important to acknowledge that the significance of native RAR support has diminished in recent times. With the advent of high-speed internet connections, large file downloads that once took days can now be completed within minutes or hours. Additionally, the rise of legal streaming platforms has provided a convenient alternative to piracy, eliminating the need for extensive file compression and spanning. As a result, many users, including the author, may not have encountered a RAR file in a long time, making the addition of native support less impactful for daily use.
Alternatives for Earlier Windows Versions for RAR Files:
While Windows 11 users can now enjoy the convenience of native RAR support, those on earlier versions of the operating system still have several alternative software options. Popular choices like WinRAR, PeaZip, and Zipeg offer support for multiple file formats, including RAR, and can be easily downloaded and used on earlier Windows versions. These alternatives ensure that users can efficiently handle RAR files without relying solely on Microsoft’s native support.
Microsoft’s decision to introduce native support for RAR files in Windows 11 marks a long-awaited arrival. Despite the reduced significance in today’s context, the inclusion of this feature brings convenience to users who occasionally encounter RAR files. While other operating systems may have embraced RAR support earlier, Microsoft’s late entry ensures that Windows users can now enjoy seamless integration. Whether it’s for nostalgia or occasional encounters, the availability of native support is a welcome addition. For users on earlier Windows versions, various alternatives provide comprehensive solutions for managing RAR files.