/ Technology

Microsoft Paint survives brush with death

Which paint

All good things must come to an end. And in the cut-throat world of technology, that often happens sooner rather than later. So would you miss Microsoft Paint?

As hardware and software is relentlessly supplanted by something bigger and better, there’s been one quiet stalwart which has been a constant in the world of computing, and that’s Microsoft Paint.

Microsoft Paint

It’s a core part of Windows, which was released with the very first version of Windows 1.0 back in 1985 – incidentally the same year I was born – but while I’m still in the prime of my life at 31, Microsoft announced short-lived plans last week to kill the simple drawing software and replace with a fancy new successor, Microsoft Paint 3D.

It’s practically unheard of for an original piece of software to last this long, and Microsoft probably assumed no one would care. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth as around the world there was a global outcry, akin to finding out your parents are clearing out your childhood bedroom and disposing of the contents without so much as a by-your-leave.

The worldwide outpouring of grief has caused Microsoft to backtrack and it’s said that Microsoft Paint will now be available to download for free in the Windows Store, but it won’t come as standard in the Windows 10 package.

Retro tech

In a marketplace where loyalties are constantly shifting and attention spans are frequently waning, it’s entirely unusual to be looking backwards rather than forwards. But this isn’t the only case of tech nostalgia. After decades of insatiably consuming the next big thing, there’s recently been a revival of the tech of old.

Back in May, Nokia relaunched the beloved 3310, although it’s more of a tribute to the original mobile phone from 2000, rather than a carbon-copy of the iconic handset. And Blackberry, long thought dead thanks to the likes of Apple and Samsung, has resurfaced with a throng of new smartphones, although they stray significantly away from the old design which included a physical keyboard.

But is a return to retro tech good for advancement? And are we nostalgically clinging to old tech as a result of tiring at the breakneck speed with which tech replaces itself?

There’s no simple or clear cut answer, but I for one would like to think that there’s a space for our old tech favourites, as well as room for innovation and the evolution of new tech.

Is it time to say goodbye to Microsoft Paint, or would you miss it? What hardware or software do you miss and would like to see returned?

Fancy creating a Microsoft Paint masterpiece? Send us your MS Paint creations to conversation.comments@which.co.uk


Excellent news.

Paint is a simple easy to use program that hasn’t changed out of all recognition over the years.

New is not always better as in far too many ribbons and icons that replaced the much quicker to use drop down menus of MS Office.

“New is not always better as in far too many ribbons and icons that replaced the much quicker to use drop down menus of MS Office.”

I certainly agree there. Thankfully, LibreOffice still has classic drop down menus.

Once a software tool (an “app”) becomes fit-for-purpose, it does not need to be changed, just for the sake of change. The ultimate scientific text processor, LaTeX, provides a good example of this.

The newer software is easier for novices to use, though change will cause problems for existing users. Fortunately keyboard shortcuts for common functions have remained unchanged in MS Office.

I never did get to grips with Adobe Illustrator, so if I need to do any graphics design I use Macromedia Freehand. It won’t run on modern operating systems so I use an old computer, usually my 2002 iMac, which has a flat screen. I used it yesterday because a friend asked me to do a design to commemorate a forthcoming bicentenary event. Before I put the computer away I must design a commemorative plaque for a good friend who has passed away.

I’m very happy to use old software if it does the job.

A lot of us miss Windows Cardfile, a very simple database product which gave you a simple card index. It was supplied with Windows 3.0, but the executable programme worked right through to Windows XP. It will not run on Windows 7 or later and of course it’s unsupported. A lot of us liked its simplicity AND had data stored in that format.

I doubt that many will mourn the forthcoming demise of Adobe Flash, which has long been criticised over security issues. Steve Jobs would not have it on the iPhone because it was too power hungry: https://www.ft.com/content/74f13782-7167-11e7-aca6-c6bd07df1a3c

In terms of hardware the third generation iPod Classic – discontinued because Apple couldn’t secure the tiny HDs in quantity – remains the best iPod in terms of storage. But in general, I work faster and more easily now than I did on the older systems.

You can’t beat MS paint for very simple and/or repetitive graphic tasks. For example I use it daily at work to superimpose circles over maps in an ‘x marks the spot’ way. Yes you can add circles to imported images on word or PDF but only after many, many mouse clicks and menus. I’ve never found a faster way to do this simple task than with paint. Open image with paint — select circle — select colour — draw circle — move circle if required — done !

….and Microsoft Picture It; I still use this easy-to-use photo-editing software. It’s free and does all I need for my thousands of digital images. Please keep it going, Microsoft!