How the Windows XP "Bliss" background came to be

Bliss, the default background on Windows XP, is considered one of the most iconic photos ever. The photo, taken by Chuck O'Rear, came to be the second most expensive photo ever licensed. But where did it come from, and how was it discovered?

An article from the Daily Mail has managed to shed some light on where it came from. The photo was taken during a routine journey between Napa and San Francisco. "This was January when the grass is the most brilliant green here so I jumped out and took a couple of shots and then carried on my way," O'Rear said. At the time he didn't give the picture much more thought.

Eventually Microsoft got in touch with his agent, who found the photo in the Corbis photo archives. O'Rear's career includes 25 years working for National Geographic and taking photos of winemaking near his Napa Valley home. His life in photography alone has been impressive, but his lasting legacy will probably be a photo people don't think much about.

Unfortunately, O'Rear is not one of the millions of people that see his creation daily, as he uses a Mac instead.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

YouTube paying big bucks for most popular family videos

Next Story

Halo CE Anniversary review: a great classic, rejuvinated

38 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

so that isn't a grassy hill, its actually a vinyard? can't even tell from the overly exposed and color corrected wallpaper

Unfortunately, O'Rear is not one of the millions of people that see his creation daily, as he uses a Mac instead.

Because it's common knowledge you can't change the desktop picture on a Mac...

.Neo said,

Because it's common knowledge you can't change the desktop picture on a Mac...

I think it will remind him too much of that stupid Windows XP..

Coi said,

I think it will remind him too much of that vastly superior and more popular operating system Windows XP..

fixed

"‘I drove the same route between Napa and San Francisco a couple of times a week in 2002 or 2003 but this was January when the grass is the most brilliant green here so I jumped out and took a couple of shots and then carried on my way,' said Mr O'Rear."

Somebody should tell him XP was released on October 24th 2001 - complete with Bliss wallpaper!

Garry said,
"‘I drove the same route between Napa and San Francisco a couple of times a week in 2002 or 2003 but this was January when the grass is the most brilliant green here so I jumped out and took a couple of shots and then carried on my way,' said Mr O'Rear."

Somebody should tell him XP was released on October 24th 2001 - complete with Bliss wallpaper!


And the photo was taken in 1996...

the author has to inserted the phrase "he uses mac" at the end to turn us all off.

To summary the article try to say the following

This photographer took the bliss wallpaper. He uses mac. So he doesnt see his works everyday

satus said,
the author has to inserted the phrase "he uses mac" at the end to turn us all off.

To summary the article try to say the following

This photographer took the bliss wallpaper. He uses mac. So he doesnt see his works everyday

Yes. The author inserted that comment explicitly to annoy people.

I think he was going for irony, actually.

lunarworks said,
I think he was going for irony, actually.

Agreed. As a windows user I wasn't annoyed, I actually thought it was funny.

parisp said,
so nothing new to discuss about Microsoft and we are now talking about a 10 year old wallpaper now?

omg!!!

Somehow this article beats most of the news about Microsoft nowadays.

Sonic. said,

Somehow this article beats most of the news about Microsoft nowadays.

yes this is better then windows 8 and windows phone 7 mango /s

briangw said,
The running joke at my old job was this was a staged Teletubbies backdrop.

Not just your job, everyone seems to think that LOL

roadwarrior said,
I remember seeing a picture of the same hill taken in another time of year (winter, maybe) where the grass was all brown and the sky was overcast.

It was, but cannot find the original now. Used to be on the Toshiba website.

este said,
I wonder if he gets royalties for that picture each time a copy of XP is shipped out

Well, Microsoft went with amateur photographers and flat-fee royalty-free licenses for Vista. There must've been a reason for that.

My guess is that Microsoft paid out far more than it expected for the XP wallpaper. (After all, they thought it would only be around for a couple of years before being replaced by Longhorn.)

TomJones said,

Well, Microsoft went with amateur photographers and flat-fee royalty-free licenses for Vista. There must've been a reason for that.

My guess is that Microsoft paid out far more than it expected for the XP wallpaper. (After all, they thought it would only be around for a couple of years before being replaced by Longhorn.)

i disagree.. if that was so why would they not just put another picture in it eventually for a cheaper price?? he probably just got paid a good chunk of change up front

Mark Thomas said,
Was going to read that until I saw it was on the Daily Mail.

Right wing content aside, the quality of their journalism is utterly pants. Spelling mistakes, technical inaccuracies.. dreadful.

Mark Thomas said,
Was going to read that until I saw it was on the Daily Mail.

I know. But seeing as I figured they couldn't skew immigrants into a story like this I had a look.

Some of the headings under some of the photos:

Mr O'Rear's shot purchased for an undisclosed sun by Microsoft

The XP screensaver fits seemlessly over the scenery as it looks today

Even The Onion do better than this.

Chicane-UK said,

Right wing content aside, the quality of their journalism is utterly pants. Spelling mistakes, technical inaccuracies.. dreadful.


So you think Liberal journalism is any good? What about the horrendous Grauniad and Huffington Post? Those are quintessential examples of pathetic journalism.

Chicane-UK said,

Right wing content aside, the quality of their journalism is utterly pants. Spelling mistakes, technical inaccuracies.. dreadful.

Surprise there wasn't a cancer-related article featured on the page somewhere.

Hahaiah said,

So your answer to criticism of your precious right wing whatever is to ignore it and point your finger at another problem? Here's a thought you insipid little fuktard, How about they all suck? How about you stop being such a dolt and think for yourself. Never mind, just don't breed please.

I lol'd

protocol7 said,

The XP screensaver fits seemlessly over the scenery as it looks today

Even The Onion do better than this.

Dude, you bolded the correctly spelt word, did you mean to bold seemlessly

Jus' sayin'

Mattytommo said,

Dude, you bolded the correctly spelt word, did you mean to bold seemlessly

Jus' sayin'

But also change "screensaver" to "desktop wallpaper".