Navigating WinZip Is a Breeze
If you receive files via the Internet, CompuServe, or diskette, chances are they are compressed in some way. WinZip allows you to work with the majority of these file formats easily and quickly. It can view, run, extract, add, delete, and test archived files. If you're like most of us, zipping and unzipping files will be frequent activities. WinZip has internal support for Zip, Gzip, TAR, and UNIX compress files. It also supports ARJ, LZH, and ARC files via external programs. With its internal support, WinZip covers about 90% of the file formats you are likely to run across. Providing external support for other popular file formats is a nice touch.

Easy Installation
Installation is a snap. Run WINZIP56.EXE to extract the necessary files. The install program is run, and default directories are supplied--you can easily override them if necessary. If you have a previous version, WinZip saves prior information (handy if you have already registered the software). The program locator screen prompts you for the paths of any external programs you may have. If you are unsure of these programs, you can skip this step and perform it later. Optionally, WinZip will associate common archive file extensions with WinZip. This is a nice feature and definitely the way to go. Total installation time: 5 minutes.

Easy to Use
WinZip features an intuitive drag-and-drop, point-and-click interface. If you are familiar with Windows programs, navigating WinZip is a breeze. Launching the WinZip icon displays Screen 1. The button bar is well laid out, and the standard features are available for working with file archives.

Selecting an archive and dragging it onto WinZip displays the archive contents. Conversely, dragging several files onto the WinZip icon brings up the drag-and-drop screen. By default, WinZip takes you to the Create a New Archive screen. You can easily specify archive name, type of compression, file format, and a variety of other options from this screen. Adding files to an existing archive is a snap. Open the archive, drag the files that you want to add, and you're done. This is the way drag-and-drop should work.

Rich Feature Set
What really sets WinZip apart from other archive managers is its rich feature set. Here are a few of the many useful features you will find in WinZip:

  • Install/Uninstall: WinZip's Install/ Uninstall feature makes it easy to install and uninstall software distributed in archives. If a SETUP.EXE or an INSTALL.EXE file is present in the archive, the button bar will display an install button.WinZip will run the installation program in an archive, giving you a chance to try the program. If you decide not to keep it, WinZip will optionally restore your system to its original state. When uninstalling, WinZip can remove files, icons, or program groups created by the install or setup program. It gives you complete control over the process. No changes are made without your approval.
  • CheckOut: If the archive you're working with doesn't have an install program, then you'll want to use the CheckOut feature. CheckOut makes it easy to examine and/or run files in an archive. It creates a Program Manager group containing one icon for each file in the archive. Double-click on the icon in the Program Manager group to run the file. After examining the files, you can have WinZip delete the program files and the Program Manager group.
  • Virus Scanning: With a million users a month connecting to the Internet, virus scanning has become very important. WinZip's support for virus scanners is good. It scans for viruses via an interface to external programs.Currently, virus scanners for Windows NT are scarce. To my knowledge, there are only three to date: Carmel Software's NT Anti-Virus available on the Internet; Cheyenne Software's InocuLAN; and Sophos' Sweep for Windows NT .
  • File Conversion: WinZip also sports smart file conversion. If you have ever received a file from a UNIX box, you know what a pain converting linefeeds to carriage-return/linefeed pairs is. The problem is that binary files don't work well when you indiscriminately change bytes around.

    WinZip has attempted to solve the problem with TAR File Smart CR/LF Conversion. To put it simply, WinZip determines whether it should perform a CR/LF conversion based on the first 80 characters. Files are considered text files when the first 80 bytes contain only characters with ASCII values between 0x20 and 0x7f, carriage returns, linefeeds, formfeeds, tabs, and alphanumeric characters. In our tests WinZip performed flawlessly, converting several text files while ignoring binary files contained in the same archive.

An Excellent Value
WinZip is one of the most polished shareware programs currently available for Windows NT. It has an excellent Help facility, including a tutorial on how to use the program's features. Support is quick, and the responses are knowledgeable.

We found only two glaring problems with WinZip:

  • It does not handle long filenames correctly. There are some anomalies in how the Windows NT Multi-Select dialog shows long filenames. It shows the short form of any filenames with blanks. This limitation is common to all NT applications. To add long filenames, use the drag-and-drop interface.
  • It is currently available only on the Intel platform.

On the whole, WinZip is an excellent value. At $29 it has just about everything you would want in a file archive utility. WinZip is definitely a program you want in your tool box.

WinZip 5.6 is the most recent released version. It is available from the WinZip home page via FTP, or from CompuServe by typing GO WinZip. You can also check your favorite BBSs and Internet FTP sites. The shareware version is full-featured and is not crippled in any way. The company relies on a guilt screen to coax you to register. You can register by credit card over the phone, snail mail, or on-line via CompuServe. Complete details are available in REGISTER.TXT as well as on the registration screen.

WinZip 5.6a
Requirements: Windows NT 3.51 Server or Workstation
Contact: Nico Mak Computing, Inc.
CompuServe: 70056,241
Price: $29 single user. Site licenses available.