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Winzip: A Deceitful Niche Market PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Monday, 23 August 2010 18:48


I get requests often at work to install Winzip. Change must be hard for some people.


I recently had to install Winzip on an end user’s computer. At this facility, Winzip has been the norm for creating zip files. Nevermind that Windows has been able to generate zip files on its own since Windows XP came out in 2001. You simply right-click any file or group of selected files in Windows Explorer, go to “Send to” on the menu that appears, and send it to a “Compressed (zipped) folder”. Viola, instant zip file.


It is beside the fact that ZIP is one of the worst compression standards around, simply due to age. In 1993, at the height of pkzip’s reign on MS-DOS, it was AWESOME because you could take large amounts of data, particularly if it was in text form, and compress it down by large amounts. If you had to send 3MB of files on a 1.44MB floppy, you could do it with pkzip in some cases. If you had a large group of files you wanted to upload to a BBS or another user’s computer over the phone via ZMODEM protocol, ZIP was amazing for that.


ZIP compression became so ubiquitous that Microsoft eventually added support for it directly into Windows, as it was never patented or copyrighted by PKware. Thing is, Winzip has figured out that your typical end user, both consumer and business, didn’t notice that. So they continue to sell licenses for something that you don’t even need to buy to have the functionality. It is an interesting scheme, basing business upon the ignorance of the consumer. Sounds like a dangerous one to me.


Perhaps one of the most ridiculous things about Winzip is that they make you buy a new license for each new version they release. Yes, it has some features you don’t get in the Windows built-in component, but these same things are available in WinRAR, which actually adds capability to your computer that it doesn’t have with the operating system’s built in tools (such as a compression technique that makes files up to 30% smaller than ZIP file compression is capable of.) There are others as well that have something extra to offer that is meaningful.


I highly doubt a large number of the population of the world is using the backup features in Winzip. They’re using it to open zip files and create zip files, which is functionality you get in your Windows license.


Please don’t be fooled anymore. You don’t need Winzip. At all. Save your money. This isn’t Windows 98 (for most of us.)