Microsoft Paint has shipped with Windows for decades, but for a good chunk of that time, it was just a basic image processing app. You could apply some brushes on top of an image, add text, some shapes, and that’s pretty much it. For any heavier editing, you needed to download Photoshop, GIMP, or any other application. It looks like Paint wants to shake off that reputation, though, as evidenced by the inclusion of layers and transparency support
Microsoft has just decided to add what could very well be the two most requested additions to Paint. The first one is transparency. Instead of treating images with transparent backgrounds and turning those backgrounds white, Paint now has actual transparency that will be treated as transparency, checkboard pattern included and all. With this, you can open and save transparent PNGs for a change without having to worry about the PNG losing its alpha channel. The second addition is layers: instead of just one white canvas to do all your work in, you now have layers that you can stack on top, or below, each other, like other image editing programs.
This addition follows the option to remove backgrounds automatically, which was first introduced just a couple of weeks ago. Back then, the addition of just that feature could have looked a bit silly for some, since all it really did was detect the background but immediately replace it with a white background. Now we know that it was just unfinished. With this feature, background removal will now actually remove the background and isolate the subject, resulting in transparent images. And with these additions, we’re now certain that Microsoft wants to turn Paint into an capable editing tool. Of course, it’s still early days, and 95% of the experience is still the regular Paint you’ve come to know over the past few years. But things are slowly changing.
If you want to give the new Paint a spin, you’ll have to wait until the next major Windows update. While this is now live for Windows Insiders, you shouldn’t take it unless you’re really interested in trying out pre-release, potentially broken software.