Microsoft steps up its Windows 11 file management game – get ready to say goodbye to WinRAR and &-Zip

If you’ve ever downloaded a 7-Zip file or RAR file (archive file formats that allow users to compress files to more portable, smaller sizes), you will probably find that you need an extra program or app or do something with them in Windows 11, but that’s about to change. Microsoft has announced native (as in, built-in) support for 7-Zip file and RAR file formats in Windows 11 22H2

According to BleepingComputer, Microsoft has stated that Windows 11 22H2 can now support almost a dozen archive file formats that it couldn’t before without a third-party app or program such as RAR, 7-Zip, Tar, and GZ archives. 

This update came as part of October’s optional KB5031455 Preview cumulative update. This means to have this new archive file capability, you’ll need to go to Settings, then to Windows Update, and select ‘Check for Updates’. Once your device finds the new optional update, click the ‘Download and install’ button. 

That means Windows 11 will soon support all of the following archive file types: .rar, .7z, .tar, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tar.zst, .tar.xz, .tgz, .tbz2, .tzst, and .txz. Password-encrypted files aren’t covered in this update, but that will come soon. BleepingComputer asked Microsoft about the lack of password-protected archive support, but Microsoft had nothing to share at this time. 

This development was first announced during the Build 2023 conference back in a May blog post that detailed Microsoft’s new Dev Home Windows control center.

Reportedly, Microsoft enlisted the open-source libarchive project, a library of file archive and file compression formats. Apparently, this open-source project also allows users to enable support for the LZH and XAR file formats, so we could see in-house Windows 11 support for these as well. If you’re familiar with the .gz archive file format, you’re probably a Linux user familiar with the GNU Zip (gzip) utility. This new Windows support for this file format will be helpful to those using the Windows Subsystem for Linux. 

Internet Archive

(Image credit: Shutterstock / 300 librarians)

How you can power up your Windows 11's file capabilities

Again, if you’d like this new capability for Windows 11 right now, you’ll need to manually install it. Otherwise you can wait until November’s Patch Tuesday, when there is a scheduled Windows 11 cumulative update. Either way, you will get all the new Moment 4 update features which includes a whopping seventy two new features for Windows 11 like a revamped File Explorer, a renewed Backup app, a new Passkey Manager, and the shiny jewel of the update, Windows Copilot

This is a welcome update, especially since the ZIP, 7-Zip, and RAR archive formats are widely used by users of Windows systems past and present. Since 1998, Windows has had native system support for ZIP archive files, and it’s good to see 7-Zip (.7z), RAR (.rar), and gz (.gz) files, get support in Windows 11, which should make using those files much easier – and means you won’t need to install any extra applications. 

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Windows 11’s new passkey feature lets you talk to the hand (or face) and kiss those annoying passwords goodbye

Windows 11 is now introducing a new feature to the OS, which allows users to replace passwords with passkeys instead.

A recent Windows 11 Insider Preview Build (23486) lets you “use Windows Hello natively to create and sign in to supported applications and websites using passkeys, where you’ll be asked to prove your identity using a PIN, fingerprint, or face scan,” according to The Verge

Basically, this means that if you choose to log in using any of those three methods instead of using a password, two cryptographic keys are created instead. One is stored in your device and the other is stored in your choice of cloud storage service, which combine and grant you access to your device. These keys aren’t known to anyone, including yourself. You would simply use the login method of your choice and it does the rest.

Passkeys could truly be the future 

Though making a sound password with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols is usually an excellent way to safeguard accounts, in recent years identity thieves have gotten much better at cracking passwords. Not to mention that many people don’t apply best practices when it comes to creating passwords.

The concept of passkeys is a great one. Using either a PIN or biometric login method, you have two passkeys created, letting you access your device safely and without having to memorize a complicated string of characters or risk having them discovered by a bad actor. 

What’s also great about them is that you have a nice variety of choices involved in your login method. Some people feel more comfortable using biometric authentication, while others like myself prefer the classic method of using a PIN instead. Regardless, the passkey functions the same way, circumventing a password in the process.

Microsoft Edge, Apple, and Google Chrome have either already supported passkeys or will later in 2023, but this Windows Hello rollout means that people can manage logins on the OS level. However, according to Bleeping Computing, there are still plenty of kinks to work out with this system right now. But hopefully, as tech giants become more accustomed to working with Windows Hello, it will eventually become a seamless feature.

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