The most improved app of 2023 is… MS Paint?

Microsoft Paint abstract picture
(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)

This year has been great for software. We’ve already seen Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro arrive on iPads, iOS 17 released for iPhone, and generative AI enter the mainstream with ChatGPT, Midjourney, and more. However, 2023’s most impressive piece of software could come by way of Microsoft — and no, it’s not Windows Copilot. 

How do you solve a problem like MS Paint?

You may know it as Microsoft Paint, MS Paint, Windows Paint, or just plain ol’ Paint — the default graphics option for Windows that has spent the majority of the last 40 years revealing to the world that any bored child with access to a line and fill tool is just as talented of an artist as Piet Mondrian.

Often seen as the “It’ll do in a pinch” image editor, Paint has been largely ignored by Microsoft since the Windows 95 era. Its only notable updates have been the app’s adoption of the Fluid Design ‘Ribbon’ layout and the inclusion of a Dark Mode feature. Neither of which is anything to write home about.

Paint has had a quieter stage presence in Windows than cosmic background radiation, and the last time people paid attention to the software at large was when reports swirled that Microsoft was planning to kill it off in 2017 — likely to focus on its follow-up flop Paint 3D. However, the rumors of Paint’s passing were greatly exaggerated, and to this day Paint remains a staple of the Windows platform. An aged and stale staple growing more irrelevant by the day.

Until recently that is.

Windows Paint new feature Remove Background in action

(Image credit: Microsoft)

A glow-up 40 years in the making

Having been long surpassed by the likes of Photoshop, and free alternatives such as GIMP, Photoshop, and even Paint.net, the painful ascent back to any form of relevance for MS Paint is going to be a long, hard slog.

Seemingly, Microsoft abandoned all desire to take on that challenge long ago — having lost too much ground to the competition and with better things to focus on. However, all of that is changing as Microsoft is poised to drop some impressive updates with a host of new features to breathe new life into the aging app.

The following is everything we know to expect from the Microsoft Paint overhaul so far:

Background Removal Tool: A new tool that identifies the primary focus of an image and strips away the background with a single click.

Magic Paint: A generative AI tool powered by Dall-E (the same text-to-image AI tech behind Bing Chat) that turns prompts into on-canvas results in Paint.

Layers and transparency: An upcoming update for Paint will include full transparency support and the ability to work across multiple layers. 

Outlook

The new Microsoft Paint features are already available to Windows Insiders in the Canary and Dev Channels, with more updates being included based on user feedback.

Could this be the start of Paint’s journey to becoming a truly relevant image editor? Who knows, but this is the first wave of real support for the app in a long time and it’s getting people’s hopes up at the very least. Expect these new paint features to be available to all in the coming months!

For breaking news and updates on all things Microsoft, and Windows, follow Laptop Mag on TwitterFacebook, and Flipboard for the latest word as it arrives.  

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.