The forthcoming Fall Creators Update for Windows 10 will do a great many things, including asking you to review your privacy settings every 15 minutes until it comes out later this year. As part of the update, Microsoft will be rolling some functions into different ones, and wholly eliminating others. Some moves are expected, like moving the Reading List into Edge. The company is also removing the last fossilized remains of Outlook Express. But other changes are perhaps less obvious: to wit, Microsoft is deprecating Paint in the Fall Creators Update, and may remove it entirely.
In light of Microsoft’s shift to Paint 3D, it makes sense to deprecate regular old Paint. But Paint is the last shining scion of pixel art, and its legacy will live on in crappy bitmaps forever. We’ve had Paint for 32 years, starting from the monochrome version that shipped with Windows 1.0 in 1985. It may stay around for a while yet, especially if there’s broad user protest at its departure. Whether this is a case of “farewell, we hardly knew ye” or “get rekt scrub” is a matter of personal opinion and use case. But if Paint does get iced, and you need a new lightweight program to manipulate images, you may wish to check out the excellent and free-as-in-beer Paint.net, which I use for all my image editing needs.
Other things on the chopping block include screensaver support, which is going the way of the dodo in favor of lock screen features — and what will we all do without our flying teapots? I for one still plan to spend a good amount of time gazing into the fractal flame of Electric Sheep. MSPowerUser reports that Microsoft will deprecate its System Image Backup function, and recommends that people who use Windows switch to a third-party backup solution.
The move away from screensavers to lock screen features brings me to the question: Will we just use touch-screen devices only, for the rest of time? Have people entirely quit using laptops or desktops? This forced migration to touch-screen interfaces, even for users who don’t have or want a touch-screen device, seems very much in line with an approach that is simpler for those who develop and market Windows devices than for those who actually use the devices. Maybe it’s just me, but a Start menu full of screens I can’t see and dumb tiles that I literally have never clicked on is just a bunch of wasted functionality. Why don’t the tiles at least change to reflect the software I use?
There’s a bifurcation in the computer market between professional and consumer machines that’s really starting to show itself in the way we approach the software we use day-to-day. Is this shift toward a touch-screen interface inevitable because the tile interface better enables a person to fluidly use their computer, or is it happening because tablets sell? None of the professional software I use is remotely suited to a touch screen. On the other hand, Apple did a plausible job integrating some touch-screen functional elements into an OS that could also work just fine with a mouse and a keyboard. So Microsoft could carry on a time-honored tradition, do like Steve Jobs and/or Picasso, and steal. Either way, it seems like we’re all heading for a touch-screen interface designed for tablets, whether we like it or not. Get off my lawn.