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Microsoft Paint FINALLY gets a new look (but was it worth the wait?)

Even if you use a PC only once in a blue moon, you've still probably used Paint in some way over the years, or decades. And you've probably noticed that Microsoft hasn't exactly gone out of its way to modernise the app. Paint's been part of Windows since the operating system's first incarnation way back in 1985, and it's clung on despite all the many other changes.

It's finally going to get a long-overdue update in the latest edition of Windows 11, giving it a new look and making it touch-friendly for both fingers and drawing accessories. Paint's strength has always been its reliable simplicity, and the update looks like it will build on that and make things even easier for users who need to create quick pieces without any fuss. For more advanced software, see our guide to the best digital art software for creatives.

MS Paint

A glimpse of the new MS Paint interface (Image credit: Microsoft)

With no fanfare, Microsoft quietly revealed the new look in a post on Unsplash. The image shows Paint updated with the company's new Fluent Design System to match the rest of Windows 11. How much you appreciate the change might depend on your thoughts on Windows 11 itself – many PC users have been unimpressed with the Apple-esque design and changes to the Start menu. But with the new operating system sporting a much more modern look, it makes sense to finally update the ever-enduring Paint app to fit.

The new app appears to be touch-focused, even aiming to be something of an alternative to Photoshop Lite. The user interface looks more refined, ditching the old Ribbon interface so familiar in both Paint and the whole Office suite for a Fluent header like that in the new File Explorer. 

The File, View, Save, and arrow buttons have a plain, more modern theme, with no visible edges or boxes around them, while the icons have been updated with a circular design and a black and white colour theme that matches the rest of Windows 11. The app also appears to display file size at the bottom left, which could be handy if you're working with applications that have size limitations.

Photos

Photos is also getting a new look (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's also given us a sneak peek of changes to the Photos app. It's replaced the static bar on top of the image with a floating bar that has all the app's tools. The "Edit & Create" and "Share" wording has been replaced with icons, and there's now a galley at the bottom of the image.

Windows 11 has reached Beta status on Insider channels, so we can expect to see the new look Paint in preview builds soon. Some might see Paint as an app from the past, but its sheer simplicity means it's still hugely popular – people got very upset when it appeared that Microsoft might be removing it from the Windows package back in 2019. However, many agree that an update was long overdue. On Windows Latest, one user commented: "Both of the apps needed refreshing. As a Surface Pro user, Paint was not useful because it was not touch-friendly at all."

Was the update worth the wait? It's early to tell from a single image, but we'd say it looks like a change for the better. Paint's been clinging on for so long, it was in need of modernisation to remain useful as so many other quick art tools emerge. 

For more options for design software for windows, see our guide to the best design apps for Windows, or see below for the best prices on Adobe's Creative Cloud suite.

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Joseph is a freelance journalist and translator, as well as a project manager at a design agency based in Buenos Aires. His interests include graphic design and social media. He spends his nights dancing tango and drinking malbec.