Windows 11 gets support 7-Zip, RAR and GZ as archive formats in addition to ZIP

Windows[German]Microsoft has announced of the BUILD 2023 developer conference, that Windows 11 get support for further archive formats. In addition to the ZIP archive format, which has been supported for many years, other archive formats (7-Zip, RAR and GZ and more) are to be natively supported by the operating system.


It was the BUILD 2023 developer conference where Microsoft's head of Windows development, Panos Panay, announced the expansion of native support for additional archive formats. This caught the eye of colleagues at Bleeping Computer, among others, who had picked up on it in a tweet and this article.

Windows 11 Archive format support

Short info from Microsoft

Microsoft has published a short information about this in the article Bringing the power of AI to Windows 11 – unlocking a new era of productivity for customers and developers with Windows Copilot and Dev Home from May 23, 2023. The post is about the innovations they are planning in Windows 11. Regarding the archive formats, it states:

We have added native support for additional archive formats, including tar, 7-zip, rar, gz and many others using the libarchive open-source project. You now can get improved performance of archive functionality during compression on Windows.

The use of the additional archive formats should be controlled via context menu commands, as with ZIP files. Addendum: Thomas Maurer, Senior PM and Chief Evangelist Azure Hybrid, has postet the following screeshot at Twitter, showing a context menu with the compression commands.

Windows 11 compression context menu


Microsoft uses the open source library libarchive for the implementation, which supports numerous compression and archive formats according to the project's GitHub page.

Currently it's not clear, whether multi theading will be supported or not. Microsoft hasn't saying anything about this. Without multi threading the compressing/uncompressing will be slow as hell.

It's not clear, when the feature arrives

It's not entirely clear when the features are coming – the blog post above doesn't give any hints. However, the extension in question to natively support the archive formats tar, 7-zip, rar, gz could already be included in the (internally called Moments 3 update) feature update for June 2023 – and is then in the preview update KB5026446 rolled out this week (see Windows 11 21H2: Preview (Feature) Update KB5026446 (May 24, 2023)). However, nothing is mentioned in the change logs – I can't test anything myself at the moment, because I can't get the Windows 11 22H2 to work in my VM environment due to incompatibilities.

Addendum: A German blog reader confirmed, that the library is included in Windows 10 22H2, but he don't have the new feature – it's not activated.

Microsoft told The Verge that the rollout is a work-in-progress starting this week. It is therefore possible that Microsoft will gradually release the feature for supporting the archive formats for individual user groups – although the code is already included in the "Moments 3" feature update for June 2023. Martin Geuß, who presented the new features of the update here, only shows the command for compressing to ZIP files in the screenshot of the context menu in Explorer.

This additional archive format support basically eliminates the need to use separate archive programs like 7-ZIP for most users. However, my personal experience has been that packing and unpacking ZIP and CAB archives with Windows on-board tools runs quite sluggishly. Therefore, I still use to 7-Zip or similar tools, where the operations are much faster.

It should also be exciting when vulnerabilities that have become known in the open source library libarchive are patched by Microsoft. With some open source additions (e.g. Curl), this can take Microsoft months.

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