PKZip replaces ARC files, provides compression using Windows

ARC compressed and combined files for faster modem transmission. Until now, PKZip has
retained ARC's old command-line interface, which means you have to type commands in MS-DOS
or an MS-DOS window to zip or unzip files.


There are graphical shells that insulate Microsoft Windows users from such command-line
interfaces, the most popular being Nico Mak Computing Inc.'s WinZip.


Now, a bit late to the party, PKWare Inc. finally has released PKZip in a Windows
version.


True to its name, PKZip zips right onto your hard drive from a single floppy diskette,
taking up less than 1M.


Oddly, the 140-page user manual contains nothing about program installation, which is
very easy.


PKWare provides technical support through fax, BBS, America Online, CompuServe, UseNet,
or toll calls to a technical support center. My toll call was answered immediately, and so
was my question.


I found that PKZip 2.50 for Windows delivered performance as good as that of its MS-DOS
sibling, PKZip 2.04g.


The Windows interface simplified the primary functions-zipping (compressing) and
unzipping (decompressing) files.


It now takes only a mouse click to create a new .zip file or open existing ones. Adding
or updating files to an existing .zip file is as simple as drag and drop.


When you unzip an archive, you can select files based on size, date of creation,
filename or extension.


There's also a file viewer to inspect individual files within an archive, such as
important readme.txt files, before extraction.


Best of all, a zipped file can span more than one floppy disk or other removable media.


This makes it much easier to distribute large archives. The included 32-bit version of
PKZip for Windows 95 and Windows NT can retain and restore long filenames, integrate with
the Windows Explorer and support the right mouse button. Individual files can move between
different .zip archives without extraction and recompression.


If necessary, you can even force PKZip to store files under the standard MS-DOS 8.3
filename format. This helps keep Windows 95 and NT files compatible with the older Windows
3.x machines.


PKZip makes three types of self-extracting archives. The Windows self-extractor creates
a file that executes under the Windows operating system. A Windows self-extracting archive
is capable of maintaining long Windows 95 and NT filenames, creating new program groups
and registering file extensions in the Windows registry.


The familiar MS-DOS self-extractor creates a DOS self-extracting archive with the
normal options. And the DOS-Jr. self-extractor constructs a more compact archive that runs
in less memory.


This package can provide four compression levels, along with an option to combine files
inside an archive without any compression. I tested the compression levels by archivng a
drive holding 338.8M of program, data and graphics files.


William M. Frazier, a PC hobbyist, is the postmaster of Ocean Shores, Wash.


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