WinZip is a handy tool for Windows (95, 98, ME, or XP) users that simplifies the use of compressed file types. The program, which is free for download, handles files of the formats CAB, TAR, GZIP, UUencode, BinHex, MIME, ARJ, LZH, ARC, ZIP and others (most anything but RAR files, which WinRar takes care of).

Major features, as of version 8.1, include:

    1. The "WinZip Wizard" - a nice tool for people who aren't quite computer savy. With a pretty interface that allows drag and drop zipping and unzipping, this is difficult to NOT understand, even without having read readme or help files.

    2. Windows Shell Integration - allows you to right click on a file most anywhere and "Add to zip"

    3. Internet Support - Winzip even has features that add to IE or Netscape to allow single click zip openings on websites.

    4. Favorites List - WinZip can sort all your downloaded ZIP files into a list sorted by date of download, allowing for easy location of files regardless of where they are stored on your HDD. This effectively treats multiple folders as though they were one for browsing purposes.

    5. Self Extracting Files - You can even create files that don't need you to run the wizard or WinZip itself to extract them. They work as an executable - double click and you will be prompted to insert the location you'd like the files dumped to.
It's a program one can't live without once you've had it, but don't take my word for it. WinZip has been the recipient of many awards, including the People's Choice Award for Best Application (2000), Shareware Industry Award for Best Overall Utility (2000), the Best Utility MVP Award from PC Computing (1/2000 issue), the Win100 2000 from, Download of the Millennium on ZDNet, and the 1999 Editor's Choice Award from PC Magazine.

WinZip requests that you register your software within 30 days, but I've never met anyone that has. As long as you don't mind clicking "ok" one extra time for every use, it's no big deal. Registration costs $29.00 American for a single user license, to purchase for multiple computers, the cost breakdown is thus:

    2 to 9 computers: $22 per computer
    10 to 24 computers: $17 per computer
    25 to 49 computers: $14 per computer
    50 to 99 computers: $10 per computer
    100 to 199 computers: $7 per computer
    200 to 499 computers: $6 per computer
    500 to 749 computers: $4 per computer

Add-ons for WinZip include command line support, the net browser, and the WinZip Self Extractor.

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