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After Brush with Death, Microsoft Paint Lives On

The outcry of support for sweet, sweet MS Paint seemed for naught, until Microsoft had a change of heart.

(illustration by the author for Hyperallergic)

There was a brief and reverberating panic when Microsoft announced on Monday that its beloved Microsoft Paint would be “deprecated,” or potentially discontinued, in Windows 10, scheduled for release this coming fall. It’s the equivalent of shoving an unused object to the far reaches of a closet without tossing it away just yet, its fate undetermined but probably destined for a slow death. Paint 3D would serve as the new, more sophisticated replacement. However, it seems unable to compete with Paint’s nostalgic pull and simplicity.

The outcry of support for sweet, sweet Paint — and heartache-y memes (see below) — seemed for naught, until Microsoft had a change of heart. On the same night of the announcement, Megan Saunders, a general manager in the Windows Experience group, made a second announcement on the Windows blog: MS Paint is still available in the Windows Store as a free app. “MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free,” she writes. Beneath a header of an MS Paint-ed “We Still ❤ MS Paint,” Saunders says, “Today, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It’s been amazing to see so much love for our trusty old app.”

Amazing, but not surprising. MS Paint has been part of Windows since version 1.0 in 1985, unable to save images in JPEG format until 1998 (it only utilized BMP and PCX formats). I recall sitting at my family’s first “fancy” computer, wasting time playing with the Paintbucket tool, trying to make stick-figure self-portraits that matched my skin tone and settling on lime green. In my elementary school computer class, my friends and I would use MS Paint to “send” each other messages, like, “I saw you pick your nose,” with an accompanying booger doodle. In a half-digital world laden with anxiety (constant notifications! too many updates! planned obsolescence!), outdated technology feels as quaint as a total dearth of it. I remember dawdling on Paint as fondly as I do playing outside and napping under trees.

The refreshingly easy-to-use Paint is for the layman, a digital equivalent of drawing a stick figure, an equal playing field for a mediocre artist and bored employee. A friend of mine said she once used it to make a business card for her high school “temporary tattoo business,” which is hilarious, but also a fair testament to its accessibility.

It’s unclear when Paint will be available in the Windows Store (and its inclusion in the store may render Microsoft’s support for the app obsolete), but for now, we can rest easy. And celebrate accordingly:

(illustration by the author for Hyperallergic)
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