Social archiving and zipping in the cloud

WinZip 17 continues to combine the best of cloud and security, along with an already solid compression tool.

WinZip continues to push off last year's momentum with version 17 to persuade users that it remains significant in today's world of computing.

Much of what's under the hood remains solid and hasn't aged. The latest entry builds upon the 64-bit ZIP engine from 2011 by adding additional OpenCL support for multicore CPUs like Ivy Bridge and AMD Fusion. But in version 17, WinZip's redesigned ribbon interface and workflow takes the spotlight.

WinZip has opted to simplify the way users manage their archives with a redesigned ribbon. The language is easier to understand and bears some resemblance to a certain "office" product. Deeply ingrained in WinZip's application is now a slew of integrative additions to popular cloud services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive. WinZip acknowledges that users rely on many different online storage services, some even two or three, and aims to defragment the workflow of having to go to different places to manage files and accounts. By enabling direct access to these services from within its own interface, WinZip 17 lets you easily access and upload your archived files. It's a welcome addition on top of the encryption measures that come with the application. Archives and accessing multiple cloud accounts from one location felt seamless and worked well once logged in to all relevant accounts.

On the downside, users who don't have pro accounts or are working with large files will find this feature limiting. All three supported cloud services, along with ZipSend, come with file size caps at anywhere between 25MB to 50MB for the free accounts. If you want to take advantage of these services to send and upload larger files, you must set up premium accounts on your own.

WinZip 17 also includes a built-in file converter and image-resizing presets. When adding photos to archives, users can opt to set a default image size for any photos added to the archive. We can imagine this feature being quite useful for sending large volumes of high-resolution photos over e-mail. Documents can also be converted to PDFs, complete with custom watermarks.

One other feature that makes a return is the social-sharing option within WinZip: users can broadcast their ZIPs and archives to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The feature works about as well as in the previous version, but also lacks some critical functions we were hoping to see: you still can't tag friends or call them out specifically from within the WinZip interface, and there's not much integration with your Facebook account outside of posting a status update with the link. We found that limited notion of sharing a potentially critical file in an indiscriminate status update a bit at odds with WinZip's collective approach to creating a collaborative workflow and adding security,.

WinZip remains a slick, snappy tool for managing ZIP files, and the cloud support is a welcome addition. Though WinZip is heading in the right direction when it comes to performance and accessibility, its social-sharing attempt still remains lackluster and gimmicky. There are plenty of good things to go around in WinZip, and we were pleased with the new package overall.

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