We are sure that almost everyone is familiar with this. Exactly! This image depicts the famous default wallpaper hill of Microsoft’s Windows XP™ operating system.
A ‘digital window’ overlooking a green hill and blue sky in the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area of the California Wine Country. This photo, named Bliss, consistently makes a Windows XP™ PC recognisable.
However, if you think Microsoft© created it in one of its design studios, you are wrong. The Bliss is a completely original photo with slight editing.
Charles O’Rear, former National Geographic photographer, took the photo in January 1996 and Microsoft© bought the rights to it in 2000. O’Rear used a 1980 Mamiya RZ67 SLR camera and Fujifilm Velvia film to take the image, a film often used among nature photographers and known to saturate some colours.
Since it was the beginning of the millennium and technology was not as advanced as it is today and it was not possible to send the photos digitally Microsoft© decided to obtain the actual negative film for the best results. Microsoft© decided to have O’Rear fly in to have the film delivered personally: it was the cheapest and fastest way to get his hands on the film that would become one of the world’s most iconic photos.
The photo is mostly as it was taken in reality. Although there was later speculation that the image had been created with software such as Adobe Photoshop, O’Rear claims that it never was.
Microsoft© retouched the photo by slightly darkening the green spot on the hill, but other than that, O’Rear’s camera did the rest. The saturated colours are the result of Fujifilm Velvia film, which is known to saturate colours somewhat.
Microsoft© gave the photo its current name and made it a key part of its marketing campaign for XP.
It is estimated that billions of people have seen the image, making it perhaps one of the most viewed photographs in history.
Look the iconic hill on Google Maps.