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Microsoft may be quietly retiring Paint after 32 years

Mark Hachman | July 25, 2017
It's just "deprecated" for most of us, but it's already disappeared in China and India.

The writing’s on the wall: Microsoft has targeted the venerable Microsoft Paint app for extinction within Windows 10. In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update due next month, Microsoft has classified Paint as “deprecated,” meaning that the app’s not in active development and might be removed in future releases. 

Deprecation doesn't necessarily mean certain death. Microsoft deprecated the Edge browser’s Reading List with the Creators Update, yet that feature remains within the Insider version 16193 of the Fall Creators Update. But if Paint's deprecated it won't improve, which means the simple march of time could render it obsolete. On the other hand, the same support document formally removes the 3D Builder app and Outlook Express, which means they're just plain gone.

Paint was first introduced in Windows 1.0 in 1985, as a licensed version of ZSoft’s PC Paintbrush.  Though Microsoft updated Paint over subsequent versions, such as adding support for JPEG, TIFF, and other file formats, its basic purpose has remained the same: a simple drawing tool and image editor. 

paint3d 3d scene 

Microsoft seems to hope that Paint3D, a 3D creation tool, will replace Paint.

The story behind the story: There's good reason to worry that Paint could move from "deprecated" to "disappeared," because it already has. The current Creators Update removes Paint if your version of Windows was written in Hindi or Swahili, though it remains supported in most Western European and Asian languages. Sometimes a quick-and-dirty solution is all that you really need, though, which is why we hope Paint will stick around, if nothing else. 


Why Microsoft’s Paint decision is wrong

We actually like Paint 3D. Microsoft’s wrong, however, if it believes Paint 3D serves as a direct replacement for Microsoft Paint.  While it's unlikely that any “true” digital artist draws in Microsoft Paint, the same’s also true for Paint 3D. Like many apps within Windows (Notepad, Sticky Notes, People) Paint serves as a quick-and-dirty utility for resizing photos, doodling a quick picture, or hacking together a quick composite or mosaic of digital art. And if nothing else, the name should give you a clue: Paint’s a two-dimensonal (2D) app, while Paint 3D creators operate in three-dimensional space. Paint 3D is an excellent, fun app, but it's no replacement for Paint.

microsoft paint scene

Sometimes a few seconds with Paint does the job.

In fact, the 2D portion of Paint 3D, known as the Canvas, is probably the least intuitive portion of Paint 3D. The Canvas hangs out as a blank two-dimensional box that floats in space, though you can make it a 3D object if you choose. It’s a backdrop, nothing more. You can drop a photo on it, or doodle a bit of ink. But the point of the Canvas is to set off your digital 3D creations, not to serve as the workspace that Paint enables.


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