WinZip is a proprietary file archiver and compressor for Microsoft Windows, developed by WinZip Computing (formerly Nico Mak Computing). It natively uses the PKZIP format but also has various levels of support for other archive formats.
WinZip was created in the early 1990s as a shareware GUI front-end for PKZIP. Sometime around 1996 the creators of WinZip incorporated compression code from the Info-ZIP project, thus eliminating the need for the PKZIP executable to be present.
From version 6.0 until version 9.0, registered users could download the newest versions of the software, enter their original registration information, and thereby obtain a free upgrade. As of version 10.0 this upgrade scheme was discontinued. WinZip is available in standard and professional versions. However, the ability of Windows XP and Windows Vista to open .zip files (as "compressed folders") has reduced sales.
WinZip has a 45-day free evaluation period. However, in some versions it continues to work even after this period of time.
Because PKWare did not protect the name by trademark and algorithm of the process by patent, and was slow to realize that the Windows operating systems would eventually dominate the OS market, Nico Mak (then employed by Mansfield Software Group, Inc) eventually seized the opportunity and released the WinZip application for Microsoft Windows.
Allegedly some of the algorithms used by PKWARE were originally copied from a program called ARC, written by Thom Henderson of System Enhancement Associates. This may explain why PKWARE was not able to patent PKZIP (see discussion in topic on Phil_Katz). WinZip 8.0 is the last major release to officially support Windows 95.
WinZip 9.0 adds support of AES encryption for ZIP archives, BZip2-compressed ZIP archives (extraction only).
WinZip 10 adds support of creating and extracting PPMD-compressed ZIP archives. It is the last major release to officially support Windows 98, ME. WinZip Pro is added in this release, which adds automation and task scheduling features.
WinZip 11 adds support of creating and extracting WavPack-compressed ZIP archives. Installer will still install to Windows 98, ME, but not officially supported. WinZip Pro adds Passive FTP support, FTP transfers, e-mail notification option for Job Wizard, custom jobs selection, full-size image viewer when opening archive.
WinZip 11.1 is certified for Windows Vista with Vista theme support, 64-bit Windows support.
WinZip 11.2 can create LHA archives without external utility. Added Unicode file name support for ZIP archives.