Windows XP is without a doubt one of the most popular operating system iteration that Microsoft has ever created. It powered hundreds of millions of computers around the world, and despite being more than a decade old, is still in use by a vast majority. As iconic as the OS itself is its wallpaper, with its rolling green hills and blue sky, its one of the most easily recognizable images in the world. The photographer who took this picture, Charles O’Rear, wishes that he could have negotiated a better deal with Microsoft had he known just how popular his photograph would become.
O’Rear hasn’t incidentally surfaced after all these years. Microsoft has flown him to Australia to promote the fact that the company is ending support for Windows XP come April 8th. More than 1.5 million people in Australia are still using Windows XP, so its the company’s aim to get them to upgrade.
Using a Mamiya RZ67 camera, the photograph was captured at a point between Napa and Sonoma, as O’Rear drove between the two counties quite frequently and found the conditions just perfect on a cloudy January day. He then uploaded it to a stock photo agency called Corbis which was actually formed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
The company then discovered the image through Corbis, flew O’Rear down to its HQ and bought the image off him. While he can’t reveal how much Microsoft paid him back then, he does say that had he have known how popular it would become, he would have negotiated a better deal. O’Rear didn’t get a royalty deal, but if he did get one that gave him just a cent per copy sold, he would surely have made a hell of a lot more money.