Version 4.0.18, which I just announced, is now available on the Windows Store! The standard price is currently $8.99, but I’ve put it on sale for
$5.99 $4.99 until the end of October. You can also make use of the 30-day free trial to get started.
(It may take a little bit of time before you can search for Paint.NET on the Windows Store. I’m told that things take up to 24 hours to “propagate.”)
Wait, it’s not free?
Correct! The Store release of Paint.NET is not distributed free-of-charge. This allows many things to converge and solves a lot of problems, while still providing value for new and existing users (err, customers?). The “Classic” release will still be available and kept up-to-date on the same schedule as the Store release.
… Well, I’m not gonna pay for it.
That’s fine. Just use the “Classic” version like you always have. It’s worth checking out what the Store release has to offer though. Maybe you’ll change your mind, but if not … ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And you can still send a donation if that’s your preferred way of providing financial support. This is actually more effective because Microsoft does take a 30% cut of every transaction that goes through their Store.
There are some important advantages that the Store release comes with:
Automatic background updating. The first advantage is a really big one, in my opinion. Paint.NET already has a best-in-class update experience (“Install when I exit”, thankyouverymuch), but having updates be fully automatic and transparent is much better. Now whenever you launch Paint.NET it will definitely be the latest version. No more procrastinating the update because you’re already busy with other stuff. No more bumping into a crash that was fixed yesterday or last week (or last year … *cough* ). The Classic release checks about once every 10 days for updates, so if you move to the Store release then you’ll probably have updates several days sooner than usual (on average).
Easy Installation. The second advantage is that, once purchased, it’s really easy to get Paint.NET installed onto any new device. Everyone knows that installing “classic” desktop apps on Windows is a pain, especially when setting up a new PC. But for Store apps, it’s just so much easier: go to the “Store” app in Windows 10, click on the “…” at the top right, then click “My Library,” and then just click on the little download button next to Paint.NET (and on any other apps you need to install). Wait a little bit for the download and installation and you’re done. (There’s probably a better way to do this … it’s just the first method I found that I could verify quickly enough and be confident about.)
(Store apps also come with the wonderful advantage that they can’t install browser toolbars. They can’t change your web browser’s home page. They can’t do all sorts of things that would pollute your system. Store apps don’t get to provide their own installers full of sneaky check boxes that may or may not install various crapware. Paint.NET has never and will never do anything like that, but for many other apps it has been a very slippery slope over the years.)
Reliability. The Paint.NET installer and updater are based on Windows Installer (“MSI files”). Over the years this has proven to be an unreliable foundation. Every update I put out comes with a very small chance that a very small number of users will be unable to install the update, and that it will break their existing installation, and that they’ll be unable to reinstall – until they follow a set of crowdsourced troubleshooting steps that usually (but not always ) solves the problem. I’ve never been able to reproduce this, and I’ve never discovered the reason this happens. This problem goes away completely with the Windows Store release because of the way the package manager and application model works.
So … why charge for it now?
Over the years, I’ve been told over and over that I should be charging for Paint.NET and that people were willing to pay me for it. Accepting donations, the equivalent of a virtual “tip jar,” was a good way to accommodate this without having to develop or integrate a payment system along with serial numbers and piracy and all of that anti-fun. I’ve always been more interested in people having Paint.NET than ensuring that it has reached its full monetization potential (it’s been partly a lifestyle choice).
However, statistically speaking, not very many people actually send a donation. The numbers are actually incredibly tiny, and it’s only because Paint.NET has such an enormous user base that I’m able to see much from this. This is totally fine though – the psychology and statistics of a system like this just lean heavily against it being very lucrative, and I had long ago made a lifestyle choice to not go down the other fork in the road towards business and marketing.
Don’t get me wrong: getting donations is actually very rewarding! If someone likes Paint.NET so much that they’re willing to go to the PayPal website, punch in their details, and send me money, then that really says a lot about how much they appreciate it. I’ve had folks tell me that they promise to donate when they have money, and I’ve always told them to just tell all of their friends about it instead and to not feel indebted.
I’ve wanted to put Paint.NET into the Windows Store for awhile, but I couldn’t determine a way to monetize it that fit in with the existing distribution philosophy. Microsoft won’t allow you to accept payments or solicit donations except through their billing system, which meant that the Help menu’s Donate link had to go. And, since updates are handled automatically in the background, the polite “Please donate!” link in the updater was effectively gone as well. So if I were to give away Paint.NET for free on the Windows Store, anyone who installed it from there would probably never even see the “tip jar” and be encouraged to contribute.
So, I finally decided that I would just charge for the Store release. The Classic release will still be available and will continue to have a visible “tip jar” to encourage folks to provide financial support. And the Store release has some genuine advantages that you can pay for, if you choose.
Edit: I’d like to clarify something. There is a BetaNews article stating, “The charge for the Store app has been introduced because not enough people have been sending in donations.” This isn’t what I was trying to articulate above. The charge is because there would otherwise be no way to monetize the app at all because of Microsoft’s requirements for apps in the Store. It has nothing to do with the count or size of donations that are coming in, and I don’t mean to dismiss or minimize the contributions from folks over the years via donations. Sorry for the confusion.
But what about plugins?!
Oh! Don’t worry. Plugins are supported for the Store release. You just have to install them in a different location. Go to your Documents folder, create a folder called “paint.net App Files” (no quotes though), and then create a folder for each plugin type: Effects, FileTypes, and Shapes. And then put your plugins into each folder just like you’re used to with the Classic release. This does mean that plugins are installed per-user, mind you.
This method of installation is also supported by the Classic release, by the way.
If you’re a network administrator (or anyone really) who wants to disable this ability, you can do this with a registry key. In HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\paint.net\, create a new string key called “Plugins/AllowLoadingPluginsFromUserLocations” (without the quotes) and set its value to “false”.
Seriously, ask questions. This is a long blog post, but it’s new territory for myself and for Paint.NET and I probably missed something