Perhaps the most recognized name in all of archivedom, WinZip 14.5 debuts a new look cribbed from Microsoft Office and several new features, including advanced Windows 7 compatibility and archive management tools.
The interface is the most radical change to the program. For years, WinZip flirted with variations on its big-buttoned skin, but adapting the ribbon concept to its tools makes sense for two reasons. First, controversy for the ribbon toolbar aside, it makes the program instantly recognizable to anybody working with Microsoft Office. Secondly, the old WinZip was inadequate for the breadth of tools that the program offered. Most of the advanced features could only be accessed from the menubar, so the ribbon should be a bit of a time saver, assuming that you find the ribbon easy to navigate. You can restore the classic interface under Options.
WinZip 14.5's Windows 7 features are another indication that the program, now owned by Corel, won't be trading just on its big name. In addition to jump lists and libraries, WinZip's internal viewer supports multitouch gestures on touch screens. There's also a "one-click unzip" option, which will unzip an archive and open the file location in Windows Explorer, a ZIP file previewer for checking out the contents of an archive without having to open it in WinZip, a button for encrypting an already-created, unencrypted archive, and the new "Unzip and try" feature. This lets users open an archive, use its files, save changes to them, and then close the archive without leaving a trace in your temp folders.
WinZip 14.5 isn't noticeably faster than WinZip 14, but version 14 was significantly faster than the versions prior to it. Like other high-profile, big-name programs, the makers of WinZip finally seem to take an interest in not just hulking out new features, but improving performance as well. For die-hard WinZip fans, this upgrade is an easy choice to make. Note that the program is now only available as a trial, and that the nag screen to upgrade or use with hamstrung features has been disabled. For many users, though, the price tag of $29.95 is likely to be too high to justify the new features.