After years of anticipation, Windows users will finally be able to open and extract RAR files without the need for third-party software. Microsoft has announced that starting in May 2023, Windows 10 and 11 updates will include built-in support for RAR files, a popular but previously unsupported compression format for the operating system. Now, Windows users can open and extract RAR files directly from the File Explorer, without the need for third-party software. They can also create RAR files using the context menu, providing easier management of compressed files and giving users more choice.

Windows Finally Supports RAR and 7-Zip Formats

If you’ve ever downloaded compressed files from the internet, you’ve likely come across the RAR format. This format allows files to be compressed and combined into a single file. However, unlike the ZIP format, which has long been recognized by Windows, working with RAR files required the installation of software such as WinRAR or 7-Zip.

Microsoft has finally decided to provide a service to its users by adding built-in support for the RAR format in its flagship operating system. The May 2023 updates for Windows 10 and Windows 11 include this long-awaited feature. Users will no longer need to install third-party software to work with RAR files. They can do it directly from the Windows File Explorer. Simply double-clicking on a RAR file will open it and display the compressed contents. To extract or create a RAR file, users can right-click and select “Extract All” or “Send to > Compressed (RAR) Folder“. This will open a window prompting them to choose a file name and select options such as compression level or password protection.

In addition to ZIP, Windows also supports the CAB, TAR, GZIP, and BZIP2 formats. The built-in support for the RAR format in Windows is a real relief for users who can now easily manage their compressed files without the need for third-party software.

Why Didn’t Windows Support the RAR Format?

The RAR format is proprietary, which means it is owned by its creator and not freely available. To use the RAR format, a license from WinRAR GmbH, the company that sells the software, is required. Microsoft never wanted to pay the licensing fee to integrate support for the RAR format into its operating system. The Redmond company preferred to rely on the free and standardized ZIP format. Starting with Windows XP, released in 2001, Windows allowed users to open, extract, and create ZIP files without the need for third-party software.

However, Windows users still had to install programs like WinRAR or 7-Zip to be able to work with RAR files they downloaded from the internet. This added an extra step, and these programs were not always compatible with the latest versions of the ever-changing RAR format.

Created in 1993 by Russian programmer Eugene Roshal, the RAR file format became very popular on the internet, especially for sharing multimedia files, software, or games. These files could easily be identified by their extensions ending in “.rar”, “.rev”, “.r00”, or “.r01”.