Microsoft Teases Updated Paint App for Windows 11

Posted on August 18, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 28 Comments

Microsoft’s Panos Panay recently teased a coming Windows 11 feature called Focus sessions, and now he’s teasing a visual refresh of Paint, a classic desktop application that dates back to the first version of Windows, in 1985.

“Here’s another Windows 11 first look,” Mr. Panay tweeted today. “This is the beautifully redesigned Paint app, coming soon to Windows Insiders. Can’t wait to see your creations!”

Based on the quicky video accompanying the tweet, there’s not much new here from a features perspective: All of the interactions made in the video exist in the current version of Paint. And the tools shown in the app’s ribbon interface are likewise identical to the current app.

But the big news here is that Microsoft is updating Paint at all, and what this looks like to me is what the “new” Snipping Tool looks like: A classic Win32 app with a fresh coat of WinUI 3.0 paint, if you will, and it supports Dark mode (and presumably the new Windows 11 themes engine).

And that’s just fine with me. Paint works great as-is, and I’d hate to see Microsoft muck it up like it did previously with Paint 3D, which was hilariously intended at one time as the successor and replacement for Paint.

Well, there is one difference. The “new” Paint lacks the “Edit with Paint 3D” button found in the current version, because Paint 3D will not be included in Windows 11.


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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Microsoft Teases Updated Paint App for Windows 11”

  1. boots

    There is no Home tab. Is the Home ribbon permanent? What happens when you switch to the View ribbon?

  2. truerock2

    I use Microsoft Paint every day. I use when I need layers and better transparency support.

    If Microsoft would at layers to Paint, it would be very nice.

    Otherwise, the best thing about Paint is the developers had an extremely good feel of how to balance functionality and simplicity. Who were they? They must have been really smart developers.

  3. beckoningeagle

    If it's not broken.....

  4. brothernod

    Paint needs layers. It should be basic and simple and it's great for that, but it really needs basic layer support.

    • hrlngrv

      Depends on whether Paint is supposed to be as simple a graphics editor as Notepad is a text editor.

      In terms of analogies, layers in Paint would be like regular expression search and replace in Notepad. OTOH, from my perspective, adding transparency support to custom color support would be like adding line numbers or variable tabstops to Notepad.

      Looks like the Windows .BMP file format doesn't support transparency. I only tested this using another program to create an entirely transparent image, saved it both as a .BMP file and as a .PNG file, and the .BMP file displays as all black, while the .PNG file displays as all transparent, meaning the layer below shows through. So is this limitation baked into Paint/Windows .BMP files?

  5. spiderman2

    Once again the new snipping tool, is UWP, please ask Rudy Huyn and his team that worked on it

  6. Yannick

    > But the big news here is that Microsoft is updating Paint at all, and what this looks like to me is what the “new” Snipping Tool looks like: A classic Win32 app with a fresh coat of WinUI 3.0 paint

    But that's not what the new Snipping Tool is. The new Snipping Tool *is* Snip & Sketch with a new name and WinUI 2.6 on top of it. It's a full-fledged UWP. And neither is this new version of Paint using WinUI 3. Or at the very least not the version we've seen, if it is using WinUI at all it's version 2.6, otherwise they just restyled classic UI elements to look like it (but the former is more likely).

  7. hrlngrv

    Looks like it still won't handle transparency, so still need another graphic editor for that.

    • thejoefin

      Ironically Paint3D did transparent background images, hopefully Microsoft brings this feature forward to the new refreshed Paint

  8. thewarragulman

    This is what Microsoft should have been doing 6 years ago rather than trying to UWPify everything, this is a much more mature way of modernizing classic Win32 apps without losing their functionality. As a user of Paint for basic editing and GIMP for some more advanced stuff this makes me happy that the real Paint app is getting some much needed love for the first time since Windows 7.

  9. bluvg

    I don't understand why all the hate for Paint 3D (was it the video into?). I think it's pretty fun, even if one rarely uses the 3D stuff--but even that is useful when manipulating 2D images. It may not replace heavy-hitter apps, but it starts almost instantaneously, is extremely fast, and surprisingly capable. Paint is fine, but c'mon... it's a serviceable, known commodity, not some standard-bearer.

    The Microsoft photo app I miss most is PhotoDraw (part of Office 2000 Premium). Easy-to-use vector graphics for the masses at the time, killed off when they bought Expression.

    • Paul Thurrott

      It's not hate. It's a recognition that this newer app isn't as good as the old thing we've been using for decades.

      • bluvg

        What am I missing? I'm not seeing where it's deficient or functionally worse. I could see where bloat would be a problem if it were slow or overly complex, but it's strikingly fast on my computer, and the UI seems well-rounded. The 2D image manipulation stuff is well-done, I think noticeably better than Paint.

      • bluvg

        Also, I mention hate because it's right below in the comments (brettscoast) ?

    • hrlngrv

      For me, the main reason Paint 3D was unusable was that it started off only able to run a single instance. Add a brand new UI with too little time to futz around learning it and the fact that Paint was more than adequate for my needs meant Paint 3D was a waste of disk space.

      • bluvg

        I don't remember trying it when it was single-instance only (definitely a pain), but it seems to support it now. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think there's much UI to learn with either Paint or Paint 3D... both seem pretty straightforward. I got the impression it's unfairly maligned because folks saw the 3D abilities as a novelty/superfluous, but even if you never touch those, it seems quite solid and fast to me. Disk space, though? At less than 30 MB?

        • hrlngrv

          Perhaps Paint 3D suffers from bad first impressions, but to risk being trite, first impressions matter. Doesn't matter that it may work differently now, too many users found too many reasons NOT to use it. It's dead, Jim. Accept it or not, Paint 3D is on its way to join live tiles, Clippy and Bob in the Big MSFT Bit Bucket in the Sky.

  10. jamJAR

    This, and MS Picture Manager are the ones I use at work. All because none of them do everything I need (and installing MS Picture Manager is a pain since it was discontinued).

  11. mmcpher

    Maybe my all time favorite Microsoft app was Fresh Paint which had such wonderful promise and was such a terrific combination of features and simplicity. So of course they just stopped developing it. I still prefer it to every other digital paint app.

  12. chriscarstens

    Missing Feature? Where’s Clippy?

  13. rbwatson0

    Meet the new paint, same as the old paint.

  14. mattbg

    You’d think they would spend at least a couple of seconds showing someone using it with touch,

  15. brettscoast

    Thanks for posting. Extremely happy that paint will continue on in Windows 11, I hate that paint 3D with a passion so this suits me fine, its an app I use regularly so good news indeed.

  16. randallcorn

    Ooooh, dark mode! Take my money please!!!