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archive:bbs:ziphack

Regarding Hacked versions of PKware products.

             and

Regarding no new versions of PKware products from Pkware.

             by Bob Mahoney, Exec-PC BBS                        12/11/92

More and more hacked versions of the PKware zip and unzip programs are appearing on bulletin boards. This is a sign of the frustration we are all feeling with zip looking as if it is dead in the water. We are starting to wonder if perhaps a hacked version of zip and unzip might be better than the unapproved alpha versions PKware has allowed to float around for so long. To explain:

PKware has set a new record in the computer industry. They have had an alpha test version of their zip and unzip software circulating on bulletin boards for more than a year. Typically, a company will distribute an alpha version to selected testers, then within a reasonable amount of time will distribute a beta version, then will soon release a real version after that.

In late 1991 PKware distributed their PKZ193A.EXE, "A" for alpha, zip software and it immediately appeared on every BBS in the country. Fine, alpha versions are soon replaced by beta, then final versions. No problem. Well, here we are, just about into 1993. The old alpha version is still causing frustration and confusion on most bulletin boards.

To quote a typical message received from an innocent BBS user:

"Why does this BBS have so many files that don't work? When I unzip the file PKUNZIP tells me "I don't know how to handle this file". You should check your files more carefully. Many of my friends have the same problem."

Recently, the messages have become more profane, with "pi????" and "f??? you" sprinkled in some of them, all complaining about files that do not work. What is the problem? The problem is PKware sitting on an alpha version and seemming to do nothing about it.

I propose the following: We do some research to see what other compression software might be more appropriate for use on BBS systems, and discuss converting all collections from zip to whatever compression techniques looks like a logical successor to the confused zip situation.

After all, if PKware ever attempts to release another version in the future, we can probably look forward to at least another year of version confusion, profane messages, extremely frustrated new users, and 30 or 40 messages per week from people confused about the lack of any zip standards. For the 4 or 5 years we have been using zip format, one full year has been under non-standard formats with an alpha version floating around. I have not seen the same predicament with other compression standards.

I ask for your input concerning conversion to other standards.

I encourage you to distribute this file to other online systems to see if there is a consensus about this. Bob Mahoney



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