Is Microsoft removing Paint from future versions of Windows?

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Is Microsoft removing Paint from future versions of Windows?

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.

The Windows 1.0 version of Microsoft Paint.

Microsoft Paint in Windows 1.0 – It was pretty basic with only two colours but it was a glimpse of what was to come.

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).

The Windows 3.0 version of Microsoft Paint.

With the release of Windows 3.0, Paint was renamed to Paintbrush and supported 16 colours.

Start Painting

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 Windows 95 version of Microsoft Paint.

With the release of Windows 95, Paintbrush was renamed back to Paint and featured a fresh new interface.

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.

Microsoft Paint on WIndows 7

With the release of Windows 7, Microsoft Paint received the Ribbon interface which was both loved and hated by many.

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.

Fresh Paint on Windows 10

Fresh Paint is a Windows Store app which supports many painting styles, but some of the features of Paint are missing.

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.

3D Paint in Windows 10

3D Paint is a new paint program included with the Windows 10 Creators Update which can be used to create 3D models.

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. running on Windows 10

Paint.Net started as an alternative to Microsoft Paint but evolved into much more.

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.

The GIMP running on Windows 10

The GIMP is a free and open source image editing application available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

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.

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Recent Ransomware attacks and how to protect yourself

You may have seen recently in the media that the NHS was struck by ransomware across some of it’s hospitals and surgeries along with organisations across 99 countries.

Ransomware is a piece of software that when run on your computer can encrypt your important files; important documents, family photos and videos, music or other important files are scrambled so they can’t be used usually without paying a ransom fee, usually within a limited amount of time, after which either the ransom will increase or your files will be lost forever.

There are many different versions of ransomware out in the wild.  Traditionally ransomware was spread by e-mail, usually an e-mail purporting to be from a legitimate sender such as Royal Mail or Court service.  However as seen with the recent NHS infection, ransomware such as WannaCry can infect other computers using a vulnerability found in Windows which unless your computer is set to install automatic updates, could be potentially not protected against.

So what can I do to protect myself?

Well, there are some basic steps you can use to help protect your computer and important documents.

Install software updates

Programmers who write software occasionally make mistakes.  Computer programs are very complicated and often have millions of lines of code, and while programmers take steps to ensure their code doesn’t contain bugs they can and do slip through the net.

Fixing Problems

Fixing Problems – Image courtesy of XKCD –

Microsoft, Apple, Google and other software developers often release monthly updates for their software.  If these updates aren’t installed your computer could be vulnerable to attacks which could cause your computer to become infected.

Run anti-virus software

Running anti-virus software on your computer is very important.  Anti-Virus software can detect and stop known viruses and malware from infecting your computer and is often updated daily (sometimes even multiple times a day).  While it’s still possible for new malware to slip past your anti-virus software, it’s usually detected and blocked.  Even Macs and Android phones and tablets have been targeted by malware so for peace of mind it’s recommended that you have some anti-virus protection.  Examples of anti-virus vendors include Avast, Sophos or even Microsoft with their Windows Defender which is built into Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Have a backup of your important data or documents

Your data such as your documents, pictures, home videos, homework/coursework, accounts files are important.  You should keep a regular backup of important data and make sure that you test the backups to make sure they work.  Backups should be kept separate to your computer.  They could be on an external USB hard disk, memory stick (which should be disconnected when not being used) or even an online cloud storage service such as Google Drive or Apple iCloud or on to a blank CD or DVD.

Beware of opening e-mail attachments

If you receive an e-mail from someone you don’t know or if someone has sent you an e-mail with an attachment that you’re not expecting beware of opening the attachment.  Some malware can infect e-mail programs such as Outlook and send itself to everyone in the e-mail address book, so if someone you know becomes infected you may receive an e-mail purporting to be them containing the same malware.  If you do receive an e-mail with an attachment from someone you don’t know it’s usually a good idea to delete it.  If you receive an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know, but wasn’t expecting it, perhaps contact them and check if they did send you something before opening it.

Beware of Facebook or social media scam applications

You’ve probably seen before posts on Facebook or other social media of an interesting looking or shocking video, or something that can tell you who viewed your profile.  These are examples of scam apps on Facebook which when clicked on can ask you to give permissions to post on your Facebook timeline or access your personal information such as name or e-mail address.  Once they’ve been given permission they can start posting things to your timeline without your knowledge.  They may also lead you to external websites and ask you to install software to view content which could potentially be malware.

While there’s always a risk of getting caught out, these tips could potentially help protect your computer or important documents.

Run an up to date supported version of your operating system

If your computer is still running Windows XP or Windows Vista you won’t receive any future security fixes for your computer apart from in extremely limited circumstances.  Microsoft provide updates for their products usually for a few years after they’re released.  Support for Windows XP ended in April 2014 and support for Windows Vista ended in April 2017.

Microsoft do recommend that anyone running Windows upgrades to Windows 10, although users of Windows 7 and 8 are supported until January 2020 and January 2023 respectively.

If you have a Mac, things are a little more complex, but Apple provide a list of computers that are still supported on their website.

If you’re a business with a server then it’s worth finding out if it’s still supported.  Servers running Windows Server 2003 stopped receiving support in January 2015, so if your server is running an unsupported operating system then it’s advisable to upgrade.

If you’d like to talk to us about upgrading your computer or server then please give us a call on 01803 500199 or e-mail us.

What if I get infected?

First of all, if you get infected, don’t panic.  In some cases, there are programs available from anti-virus vendors which can decrypt the encrypted files, although unfortunately this isn’t the case with every piece of ransomware out in the wild.

If you have a backup of your data, make sure you don’t plug this into your computer while it’s infected.

Give us a call at ProudGeek and we can advise further what your options are.  We can offer assistance.