There's a new version of WinZip and it is no longer an encryption and compression utility as it now has the ability of a file sharing tool that can overcome email attachment limitations, or a means of increasing user productivity with data stored in the cloud.

If you're wondering about the price, then you're in luck, because it hasn't changed - the Standard version is available for $29.95 / €29.95 and the Pro version, which we used for this review, goes for $49.95 / €49.95.

This time around, though, WinZip Pro comes with a set of four add-ons that are at the user's disposal. These add-ons allow for users to work with WinZip Pro more efficiently. We were able to test these add-ons and we have to say this - they have truly improved our experience and productivity when using WinZip. The investment here will only cost the user $9.95 / €9.95 each.

Bear in mind that the developer stated that the Enterprise edition of WinZip will become available some time in December. This edition will come with support for Amazon S3 and Sharepoint. It will also integrate all the add-ons of WinZip Pro along with giving the user all the benefits of WinZip Courier.

Installing WinZip doesn't take long to finish. However, the users must be careful and keep an open eye to avoid installing third party tools onto their computer. Furthermore, compared to the previous release of WinZip, the user interface has been improved greatly, and now the Share and Create menus are grouped together to allow for faster productivity. Any file added to this particular panel can be easily sent as an attachment to an email account using the computer's default email client. Furthermore, this same file can be shared through social networks or uploaded to a supported cloud storage.

Users will also have the option to watermark photos, resize them, along with converting documents to PDF.

The cloud services here are pretty extensive. Users will have the option to access files via SkyDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, CloudMe, SugarSync, Box, and Zip Send. That's a lot of options, though, we only tested SkyDrive and surprisingly, it worked very well. We are able to grab files from our SkyDrive account along with uploading zipped files.

Sharing files to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is just as easy, so users shouldn't expect a learning curve.

Despite WinZip 18 Pro's focus on the cloud, it's still great at compressing and decompressing files. We managed to test it against WinRar and it came out better at compressing text documents to the smallest size. However, it does take a lot of processing speed and system resource, so you may need to keep that in mind.

When compressing images, WinZip took longer to complete the job, when compared to WinRar. However, WinZip managed to do a better job at the end.

The only problem we have with WinZip 18 Pro is the lack of a progress bar when files are being compressed. We just have no idea what's going on or if something has gone awry, so hopefully the developers will fix this problem in a future update. Aside from that, WinZip Pro is powerful and is probably the most feature-rich file compression tool out there right now. Interested? Get it here.

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