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Windows 11 Dev Channel update adds the long awaited (or feared) read support for RAR files

A few weeks ago, at Microsoft Build 2023, the company buried a quick note in its many announcements stating it would add native support for opening many archive file formats. That included the popular RAR format. It didn't take long for that tiny mention to go viral on the internet, as many people got excited at the prospect of being able to open a RAR archive without having to use a third-party app.

Today, Microsoft announced that the newly launched Windows 11 Dev channel build 23493 for Insiders is now rolling out support for opening RAR files natively, along with many other file formats. Here's the full list:

  • .tar
  • .tar.gz
  • .tar.bz2
  • .tar.zst
  • .tar.xz
  • .tgz
  • .tbz2
  • .tzst
  • .txz
  • .rar
  • .7z
  • And more!

Microsoft used the libarchive open-source project to enable Windows 11 to open up these kinds of files natively. As usual with Dev Channel releases, it may take a while for this new support to be enabled for all Windows 11 users.

The reveal that RAR files will soon be supported by Windows 11 made many people wonder about the fate of WinRAR, which has developed its third-party app for these kinds of files for decades.

In a statement sent to Neowin, Louise Cusworth of the WinRAR sales team said back in late May that "we were taken by surprise by the announcement" and while they were "concerned" about how this might affect the use of WinRAR, Cusworth added, "hopefully, there are enough people out there who will continue to support a small software company like us, so that we can continue to develop WinRAR for a long time to come!"

Since then, WinRAR's Twitter feed has indicated it was more than just "concerned" about the future of the company. However, it has also celebrated what looks like an increase in the number of people who have decided to purchase the full version of WinRAR. We will have to see if this will continue after RAR support is added to all Windows 11 versions.

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