Microsoft has heard our wailing, but unfortunately, managers at the multi-billion dollar firm might have never watched an episode of Saturday Night Live or read The Onion.

In the past week, after Microsoft announced the 32-year-old appwould be would "deprecated" (which came with Windows 1.0 way back when and allows you to make simple image edits), users responded with what the Redmond giant called an "outpouring" of support.

That headline reminded me a little of The Onion.

It's like customers showing an outpouring of love over Cheerios or Pop Tarts. MS Paint might represent something, but it's mostly that there is terrible software out there.

In one post, there was some lament over the bygone era, but for the most part, the writer criticized MS Paint for being "feature poor" and lacking capabilities you can find in free image editing apps. In another, the writer suggests that no one will actually miss the app. (I wrote my own ode to the bygone days, although it was a little over-the-top as well.)

Some of the tweets were rather comical. I liked the one that said RIP MS Paint, RIP our childhoods. As we all know, there's a 50-50 chance every tweet you see is meant to be sarcastic. The ones that aren't sarcastic might be outright fabrications.

It's easy to be confused, though. One post also explained that MS Paint was not a powerful program but a powerful demonstration of what computers could do.

I'd say that's a stretch.

The real truth?

We may all have some nostalgia over an app that was always a backup of a backup (something you use on a Windows computer when you are too lazy to download anything else or can't remember your login to the Adobe suite of apps).

But let's be perfectly clear. MS Paint was always terrible, even from day one. It supported only a couple of file formats. There were no filters or effects. The app was literally only capable of doing a simple resize and a few other functions. For the past 20 years or so, I've maybe used MS Paint twice. That's not a great track record. You know an app is well beyond its prime when you forget it exists for ten years or more.

So how do you account for Microsoft deciding to "save" the app and make it available from the Windows Store? (And by the way, that's not really "saving" anything. Microsoft is still not going to resurrect MS Paint or turn it into anything worthwhile. The replacement, 3D Paint, is also a little underwhelming in terms of features although it can make some cool animations.) My take is that this is a bit of a marketing tactic. By "responding" to the outcry, Microsoft appears to be catering to its user base--they have their eyes and ears open.

It also gets some attention. The blog post that dismissed the app was perfunctory, the updated post had a little edge to it, as though there was a human being making a decision. Maybe it's an opportunity to respond to customers, but it doesn't make MS Paint more worthwhile. It shows that any attention can be good attention. It shows that there is always a marketing opportunity somewhere, you just have to look for them.

At the same time, I'm just as nostalgic as anyone else. Pass me the Kleenex.

Published on: Jul 26, 2017