Microsoft finally listens to its users by adding this missing Windows 11 feature

Windows 11
(Image credit: Unsplash)

Windows 11 users will finally be getting a much-requested feature added to the OS — native RAR file extraction support built right into it.

For decades, if you needed to extract files compressed using the historically popular RAR format, you had to rely on the free-to-use WinRAR application (well, more like an infinite 30-day free trial, but still). While it’s an excellent program that’s available in 50 languages and available for multiple operating systems, having native support directly in the OS is extremely convenient and means one less piece of software cluttering your system.

Microsoft has now announced that Windows 11 will finally support RAR along with several other archive formats. According to Windows Chief Product Officer Panos Panay in an official blog post, “We have added native support for additional archive formats, including tar, 7-zip, rar, gz and many others using the libarchive open-source project.” 

However, the support only goes halfway. Going by the blog post, you can only open RAR files through the OS but not compress them using the same format, which means that you might want to keep WinRAR — or some of the other best file compression software — installed on your PC until Microsoft gets around to fully supporting the file type

Incomplete support but there’s untapped potential 

Though the RAR support is incomplete, it’s still a step in the right direction for Windows 11. No other version of Windows has ever had native support for RAR or any other archive format baked into the OS, so supporting so many of them now is a pretty huge deal.

The average user will usually need to only extract RAR files, and that’s once in a while when downloading some random file that happens to be sealed that way. Most people’s needs are more than satisfied using the conventional .zip format instead. 

That said, RAR files are still quite popular and should be fully supported natively — especially if Microsoft wants Windows 11 to finally overtake Windows 10 as the world’s most popular OS. Hopefully, this announcement means that Microsoft is already looking into fully supporting all these formats in the future, especially since Windows 11 is now using the libarchive open-source project to essentially power this.

For those not familiar with it, the libarchive is an open-source code library that can be used by programmers to create and read a wide variety of file formats. Microsoft harnessing this project to expand its archive format support has so much potential — I just hope the tech giant doesn’t squander it.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.