Windows XP Revisited

Arnoud van den Heuvel
April 3rd 2009

windows xp revisited

The most distributed image ever is being phased out. What remains is a hill in Sonoma Valley, California.

Charles O’Rear used to pass that hill almost daily between his home in Napa and his wife, Daphne, who lived in Marin County. He always carried his medium format camera.
It was hard even to slow down on highway 12/121. But one day, it must have been in January, he pulled over. After about a month of rain the sun comes up, and there is beautiful green grass. The weather during the winter can change dramatically. A break in the storm. Intense blue sky with cumulus clouds. Maybe later that day it rained.

Blue was an important brand color already in ‘95. Clouds and sky being a common theme in many aspects of the product’s identity and collateral. Illustrating potential and opportunity.

Continuing the cloud theme, but with added grounding. The horizon gives a sense of scale to the image. Makes it possible to imagine being there.

Because of the danger of that road and where he was standing, he didn’t take a tripod. His camera, when handheld, needed to be shot at least at a five-hundredth of a second. Whatever that translates into on a sunny day. Probably 500 at 5.6.

With property prices in Sonoma reaching $75,000 per acre for bare land, most hills were being developed into vineyards or homes. On this hill grapevines had been planted. But in the early 90’s a Phylloxera bug infested the grapes and made them unusable. The entire vineyard had to be pulled out. For a few years the hill was covered with grass. Green at the time of the photograph.

Green was the second main color in the branding scheme and in the User Interface. Running late in the product development cycle. Looking for a nature shot. “The reality of real life”. The image matched the brand colors. It fell completely into place, in terms of sky, clouds, blue plus the green field.

By the time the image was purchased, grapes had been planted again on the hill in Sonoma Valley.

windows xp screen

Voice over of an installation, titled: "After Microsoft" in La Vitrine, Paris, 2007
Based on interviews with photographer Charles O’Rear and Microsoft Design Team representative Tjeerd Hoek a.o. | Related: FFR Digital Trashcan | Schöne Aussichten | The World is not a Desktop |

Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!public: 1


Posted 29/09/2010 – 15:37

Could you please offer us a bigger version? e.g. 1680*1050. That would be great!!!

Posted 24/12/2009 – 03:02

so long, XP ! The best OS from M$
it was a "Nice Trip"

Arnoud van den Heuvel
Posted 11/04/2009 – 12:17

The highest resolution I could find of this image is: 800x600 and can be found here:

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What is your view on the coronavirus?

Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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