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Microsoft Paint

Kaiti Norton
Last Updated October 8, 2021 9:49 am

Microsoft Paint is a raster-based graphic design application exclusively available on the Windows operating system. It allows amateur users to create graphic elements and illustrations. In many ways, Microsoft Paint is similar to Procreate or Adobe Illustrator, though it is intended for a much less advanced user base. 

Microsoft Paint features

Microsoft Paint offers a variety of different features for a range of graphic design needs. Basic features include:

  • Color sampling
  • Icons and shapes
  • Image editing (cropping, rotating, resizing)

Some unique features are depicted in the screenshots below:

Screenshot of 3D object in Microsoft Paint.

3D objects

Screenshot of brush types in Microsoft Paint.

Variety of brush types and settings

Screenshot of 3D text effects in Microsoft Paint.

3D text effects

In addition to these features, Microsoft Paint supports touchscreen devices, meaning users can access Paint from any Windows-based touchscreen tablet. Users can also create MP4 recordings of the changes they make to a Paint file from start to finish.

Microsoft Paint history

Microsoft Paint is one of the earliest graphic design applications on the market. Accordingly, it has an extensive version history that has evolved over time with each new edition of the Windows operating system.

Early Windows

Microsoft Paint was included in the first edition of Windows in 1985. This version of Paint was limited to 1-bit, monochrome graphics file formats. In 1990, Paint was relaunched as Paintbrush with Windows 3. This version offered a redesigned user interface, plus support for true color matching and BMP and PCX file formats.

Windows 95, 98, and 2000 editions saw added support for JPEG and GIF file formats as well as 48-bit TIFF files. With Windows XP in 2001, Microsoft introduced GDI+, a class-based API for C++ programming. This meant Paint could natively support a wider range of file types.

Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8

In 2007, Windows Vista brought a second major redesign to the Paint interface, namely with the toolbar icons and default color palettes. This update also expanded the number of “undo” changes a user could make—ten compared to three with previous editions. The Vista version of Paint also started saving files in JPEG format by default.

In Windows 7, Microsoft introduced a wider variety of artistic brushes in Paint. This version also allowed users to make up to 50 “undo” changes. Additionally, Microsoft made it easier for users to paste text into a Paint textbox. In earlier versions, pasting a large amount of text would result in an error message if the textbox was not sized appropriately.

Very few changes were made to Paint in Windows 8, except for corrections to issues with the zoom functionality.

Windows 10

A major shift in the future of Paint came with the release of Windows 10. Many people expected Microsoft to remove Paint altogether, and these speculations were validated when a software update pushed an announcement that Microsoft would be deprecating the original app. At the same time, Microsoft released Paint 3D on its app store. 

Screenshot of Paint 3D in Microsoft Store.

Paint 3D in Microsoft Store

An outcry of user support caused Microsoft to change direction. Instead of removing the legacy version of Paint completely, Microsoft made it available as a free app alongside Paint 3D. 

Major updates to the Paint interface are expected to come with the release of Windows 11.