The Story Behind "Bliss," Windows XP's Desktop Photo

Chris Higgins
YouTube / MicrosoftNL
YouTube / MicrosoftNL / YouTube / MicrosoftNL

Microsoft announced this week that support for Windows XP has ended. Released in 2001, it's one of the longest-lived consumer desktop operating systems, and one of the most popular. Its popularity has made Microsoft's choice for the default desktop image into a ubiquitous icon of the twenty-first century.

The default desktop image for Windows XP is called Bliss. Taken by Charles O'Rear in 1996, it shows a dreamily idyllic hillside in the sun. Here's the story of how "Bliss" came to be:

While it's hard to know for sure, "Bliss" is a leading candidate to be the most-viewed photograph of all time. Another possibility is The Blue Marble although, let's face it, we haven't been booting up to stare at that image for thirteen years.

Equally compelling is the story of the Windows 95 startup sound, created by musician Brian Eno.