Microsoft is killing its Paint program and, along with it, everyone’s childhood

Image: Quartz/Thu-Huong Ha
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The crude rainbows and stick figures of early personal computing will soon be forgotten.

Microsoft has marked its Paint program, a popular piece of software in the 1990s, for retirement. The company has said the program is no longer in active development, and may be phased out in coming updates. It signals the end of an early web aesthetic for a generation that came of age during the first days of computing at home.

oh no microsoft paint death
Image: Quartz/Thu-Huong Ha

The bitmap program, which let users draw crude shapes and doodles from a palette of bright default colors, debuted in 1985 with Windows 1.0. Paint has led to imaginative works of pixel art, but most people who remember using the program will recall the hours spent trying to manipulate a mouse to draw a non-lumpy circle.

“Images produced in MS Paint are often immediately identifiable by this ‘shittiness’ – erratic mouse-drawn lines, uneven edges, blocky dumps of color,” writes media studies grad student Patrick Davidson. The rough, low-tech imprecision of Paint was indeed part of its appeal, and its aesthetic has inspired early internet memes like flash animation “end of the world“ and contemporary graphic memes like rage comics.

In an email Microsoft writes that Paint functions like “2D creation” are a part of Windows’ new app Paint 3D, which rolled out earlier this year. Though Paint will not receive updates, it will remain in the Microsoft app store for free.

This post has been updated to include comment from Microsoft.