PKWare Inc and WinZip Computing Inc, the two leading Zip compression software makers, have come to a truce on the sometimes thorny issue of interoperability between the cryptography features of their products.
WinZip will announce today that the latest beta of its software can read files compressed and encrypted with PKWare’s PKZip, and PKWare will announce that its free PKZip Reader tool will support WinZip’s format.
PKWare chief marketing officer Steve Crawford said: In terms of the WinZip deal, we think this is a good step forward in driving towards a single interoperable standard for secure Zip. PKWare has also improved its specification publishing process, he said.
The move should calm fears that the virtually ubiquitous Zip standard could become fragmented by competing and incompatible methods of encrypting Zipped files. But WinZip is not yet accepting PKWare’s method as the standard.
There’s no decision yet on whether there will be one standard or not, but to some extent that’s irrelevant as we will be implementing each other’s standards, WinZip president Edwin Siebesma said. However, the door, it appears, is now open.
The companies odds after PKWare, which, as Zip creator Phil Katz’s anointed heir, can claim to be the custodian of the format, added RSA cryptography to PKZip and did not reveal the specifications in a manner WinZip found timely.
WinZip, frustrated and believing PKWare was stalling publication for competitive reasons, released its own cryptography features, using a freeware implementation of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Files compressed with one firm’s application could still be read with the other, but not if they had also been encrypted. Aware that Zip’s popularity is due to its openness, neither firm appeared to be happy with that situation.
Co-operation between the two firms was kick-started by PKWare’s new licensing program, Siebesma said. The program offered free SecureZIP licenses to competitors and was announced in October, backed up by the thinly veiled threat of legal action.
The upshot is that both firms will be supporting the other’s password-based decryption features for the foreseeable future. It remains to be seen whether agreement can be reached on WinZip embracing SecureZIP encryption too.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire