Microsoft has recently released a support article to summarise features that are due to be removed or depreciated in the Windows 10 Fall Creators update which is due to be released sometime in the autumn.
A lot of the features removed are considered “legacy” features, some of which are going to be replaced with updated versions with others such as Outlook Express just being removed completely.
One feature however which is causing a storm across the Internet is the depreciation of Microsoft Paint.
A brief history of Paint
Microsoft Paint originally appeared in Windows 1.0 which was released in November 1985. Paint was a Windows version of the popular PC paint package PC PaintBrush from ZSoft. While it only featured two colours (black and white) and it laid the foundations for Microsoft Paint that we all know and love.
Any colour you like (as long as it’s from a palette of 16)
Microsoft Paint didn’t change very much until the release of Windows 3.0 in 1990. Windows 3.0 was a milestone release which offered an updated interface with support for more colours. Paint was renamed to Paintbrush and supported 16 colours (later supporting 256 colours with the popular 1992 update Windows 3.1).
August 1995 saw the launch of Windows 95 which brought in the Start menu and generally made computing easier. Paintbrush was given a fresh new interface and renamed back to Paint with support for millions of colours (although budding artists could only pick from 16 colours at a time). Paint also supported filenames longer than 8 characters so you could give your masterpieces long descriptive filenames rather than MYPICTUR.BMP.
The Ribbon Interface
Things didn’t really change significantly for 14 years. Windows had new releases although the Paint we knew and loved stayed the same. It wasn’t until the 2009 release of Windows 7 until Paint received a fresh new look incorporating the Ribbon interface from Microsoft Office 2007. Loved and hated by many, the toolbox and colours moved to a new tabbed toolbar with the majority of the tools listed under the Home tab with zooming, status bar and other less used features placed under the View tab.
The Future of Paint
At the time of writing, Microsoft Paint is still included with Windows 10, although the depreciation of Paint may mean that it will be removed in a future update of Windows.
Microsoft however have listened to the many people who have complained about the pending removal of Paint from Windows. They blogged about Paint being available in the Windows Store soon, however having checked the Windows Store, the only free Microsoft Paint package that is currently available. It features various brushes, pencils and pens and has a selection of example images, however it isn’t possible to import images from a variety of locations for quick and basic editing.
Another alternative for budding 3D designers is 3D Paint which was included with the Creators Update of Windows 10. You can create 3D models from scratch or import 2D images to convert to 3D and creations can be shared on Microsoft’s Remix 3D website.
Alternatives to Paint
While it remains to be seen if the Paint we know and love will live on in the Windows Store or if it’ll be a new and updated version with new features added but other useful basics taken away there are some free alternative options available.
Paint.Net is a free paint for Windows. Originally conceived as a replacement to Microsoft Paint it has evolved into a full featured image and photo editing application offering a wide range of tools with a clean interface. While there is a bit of a learning curve compared to the simplicity of Microsoft Paint it supports a wide range of image formats.
The Gimp or GNU Image Manipulation Program is a free and open source image editor which is available for a variety of operating systems including Windows, macOS and Linux. Like Paint.Net it features a variety of features and support many image formats (including the original PC PaintBrush PCX files). While there is a bit of a learning curve, Gimp can be used for simple image editing to advanced image and photo editing with many plugins and filters available.
So it’ll be interesting to see what Microsoft has in store for Paint. Hopefully it will still be included in the next update to Windows 10 (the Fall Creators Update) and with any luck it’ll stick around for a few more years to come. After all, it may be a fairly basic image editor but it can be used to create some pretty good work.