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microsoft-xp-bliss News & Insight

The Real Story Behind The Windows XP Wallpaper We’ll Never Forget

By Michelle Bird on April 22nd 2014


That picture of the rolling hill and stunning blue skies, recognize it? Of course you do. It’s pure “Bliss,” the iconic stock photo that came with every Windows XP operating system since 2001. Although Microsoft has pulled the plug on the aging Windows XP, over 500 million people still use it daily. So, what’s the story behind one of the most recognizable photos of all time? For one, it is in fact an actual real photograph.


This vibrant and colorful landscape was photographed by Charles ‘O Rear in Napa Valley, California, using a Mamiya RZ67 camera, color Fuji Film and a tripod. You heard it, this picture was shot on film in 1996!

After ‘O Rear took the photograph, he ended up selling it to Corbis– a company founded by Bill Gates– to be used as stock art and it ended up catching Microsoft’s eye.

[REWIND: Landscape Photographers Protect Delicate Locations]

When it was time to deliver the photograph, mail carriers wouldn’t accept the liability of transporting the original photograph because of the undisclosed value Microsoft put on it, so Microsoft bought ‘O Rear a plane ticket so he could deliver the photograph in person.

To mark the end of an era, Microsoft has made a video about ‘O Rear and his famous snapshot, you can watch below.

How many of you are being hit with nostalgia and setting “Bliss” as your wallpaper right now?

[via] NY Daily News

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Michelle Bird is a Southern California based freelance photographer and writer, with a strong focus on music, editorial and portrait photography. She is the founder and creative force behind the music+culture online blog Black Vinyl Magazine, and can often be found in the photo-pit shooting the latest concerts in town. She has a strong passion for art, exploring, vintage finds and most of all animals. Connect with her through Email,
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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Brandon Dewey

    great interview, i grew up about 10 min from that spot, very cool!

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