News broke Monday that Microsoft Paint is likely on the chopping block in the Windows Fall Creators Update the company has planned. The development isn’t surprising Microsoft released 3D Paint in the spring update, which does much the same thing and more.
Almost immediately, anguished tributes to Microsoft Paint dripped forth from the interwebs. But this time, fellow millennials, let’s opt out of the nostalgia outrage conveyor belt.
For many, Microsoft Paint was the first artistic program they encountered on a computer. It was designed to be used with a mouse and was a gateway into the creative pursuits a computer offered. It was novel and exciting.
And after about 15 minutes, let’s be honest, you got bored and did something else.
Microsoft Paint was dead simple, which also meant you quickly ran into its limitations. Using it to paste a screenshot, which was the default method of capturing your screen until the inclusion of a real screenshot tool in the Windows 8 release in 2012, was excruciating. And since Windows 8 bombed, most users were still pasting screenshots into Paint until quite recently. While that wasnt a fault of Paint, it does drive home the primary reason most Windows users ever opened up the program: to patch up an irritating UI deficiency in Windows, not to actually create any art.
There are artists who have created marvelous things out of the program, like this guy. But we celebrate his and others’ creations because they were achieved in spite of Paint, not because of it.
Like many, I have fond memories of paint. I used it on my grandma’s ancient computer, which had only two other games: Minesweeper and Solitaire. I can still see the light filtering into the room and the computer in a corner on the table.
But while I miss that feeling, I don’t actually miss Paint.
Nostalgia is a powerful force, which is why it’s harnessed so frequently in marketing. But as with most powerful things, we should be careful in how we deploy it. A decades-old program you probably don’t use but whose existence you want to preserve so it can function as your digital security blanket is not the right cause to take up.