Millions of people had their first hands-on computer graphics experience via a drawing and coloring program that could only save in a few file formats, and which could only be used to produce passable art by the very, very talented.
Yet despite its hurdles to achieving greatness, Microsoft Paint has inspired overwhelming affection in the many who have dabbled in the rudimentary software. And so the news that Microsoft is formally deprecating the 32-year-old application dredged up a wave of mournful nostalgia on social media Monday.
Paint has been a basic Windows feature since the very first edition of Windows was released in 1985. But Microsoft has announced that as of the upcoming Fall Creators Update to Windows 10, the beloved low-maintenance graphics program will be considered “not in active development,” which also means it “might be removed in future releases.”
The news inspired an outpouring of grief on social media, as would-be artists across the internet (many of them likely using their non-Windows devices) shared tributes and sadness over the passing of one of the greats.
A few people discussed the importance of MS Paint in teaching young or new learners vital tricks of the trade, from using a mouse to learning to draw.
Wait, did they seriously do that? Why? MS Paint is how you get kids to learn how to use a mouse.— Pillow (@CounterPillow) July 24, 2017
Bye bye MS Paint... You made us feel like awesome digital painters at ages 6 and 9 years. Thank you. Nandi Maasi and Amit Masa, thank you for bringing this gem into our lives. I still remember my first day at the summer workshop at Art Underground. My first assignment was to make 10 straight equidistant lines without using the shift key Good times #MSPaint #memories #Childhood #Goodbye #Baroda #Paint #Digital #90s
Naturally, the news also inspired people to share their MS Paint creations, both good and bad.
microsoft is killing PAINT about which i feel rather sad. I used it for all the curious illustrations. This is me trying it out early on... pic.twitter.com/rQPHh8oRHR— mark haddon (@mark_haddon) July 24, 2017
Oh sad times! Microsoft have revealed that their iconic Paint programme is destined for the recycle bin! I used to spend hours playing on Paint in t'olden days (there wasn't much to do in rural Cumbria) and even in my twenties (yeah I'm a loser). Here are some of the random cartoons I drew on loveable old Paint! #microsoftpaint #paint #byebyepaint #cartoons #cartoonist #microsoft #sadtimes #endofanera
Then there were others who had a snarkier take on the program, in particular its notoriously steep learning curve:
The difficulty of using MS Paint meant that if you were one of the few who could create a visually interesting/distinctive image in the program, you could basically become an internet god. Witness the masterpieces regularly churned out by Tumblr user Jim’ll Paint It, who made a name for himself doodling MS Paint prompts by request, or the stunning work of Flickr artist Martin Amend, or this epic fantasy in Paint form. Reddit user sonofjay’s 2012 Paint drawing of Morgan Freeman came with a 33-step process guide that remains a tour de force in internet art tutorials.
The pixellated nature of Paint drawings has often meant that anytime an artist has figured out how to make that pixellation work in their favor, the results are uniquely specific, capturing a gritty, nearly shaky-cam flavor of art that you can really only get in Paint itself.
Of course, the whole reason Microsoft can kill off Paint is that it recently unveiled a reportedly cooler alternative: MS Paint 3D. But the main object of Paint 3D is to make 3D objects, which won’t appeal to those who appreciate the obstacles and challenges of Paint — like trying to draw a straight line using only a mouse and the world’s most cantankerous basic art program.
Update: Perhaps because of the hubbub surrounding the news of Paint’s deprecation, Microsoft has now confirmed to Motherboard that has no immediate plans to sunset Paint, and a new update to Microsoft’s support page notes that it will remain available for free download in the Windows store.