My new netbook is an ASUS EEEk PC 904HD, but unlike on my desktop, Photoshop CS4 is unusable due to those 168 missing pixels (1024×600). Instead of GIMPing myself, a small 1.6MB download captured my heart. While browsing for alternatives, I bumped into one free little program called Paint.net. As I always like to try out new things (especially the free stuff), a download and install were a given.

Given the fact that Paint.net was originally a student project over at Washington State, this application turned out to be not just a brilliant replacement for the Microsoft Paint, but this application evolved into something better, a powerful yet simple image and photo editor tool.
My colleagues consider me as an advanced Photoshop user, and yet this application caught me by surprise. When I started it the first impression was, well I was speechless, how could such a tiny little program can be so great?

Plug-ins are easy to find and integrate in interface like a charm...

Plug-ins are easy to find and integrate in interface like a charm…

Then I opened a photo in it to see what options it has, and most of the functions and tools are there, like a marquee tool, magic wand, lasso tool, eraser, paint bucket, gradient tool, brushes, and so on… Without any doubt, some of the functions that I’m used to with the high-expense Photoshop were missing, but not for long. Visiting a Paint.net user forum resulted with finding a bunch of plug-ins. Unlike *some* plug-in packs for Photoshop, these are easily installed. Just download, unzip and place it in the folder "effects" or "file types".

Pure, simple interface and available completely free...

Pure, simple interface and available completely free… screenshot captured on ASUS EEE PC 904HD.

Given the fact that this application is open for changes, all who know something about programming can write their own plug-ins. We downloaded plug-in for opening and saving Photoshop files (.PSD). One thing with that caught me by surprise was existence of a plug-in for opening and making animated GIF, animated PNG, icons (.ico), animated cursors, and some of these things even Photoshop can’t do. We still don’t understand why Adobe threw out support for animated GIFs in Photoshop to begin with. Sure, it has a dedicated application for doing animations, but feature exclusion will disappoint any user. My Photoshop CS4 Upgrade did set me back $370 in an economic climate where you need to turn every dime twice before spending it. It is not a nice feeling to discover that the much-advertised GPU effects are not used for processing, but just for displaying a picture and that something free exists that could almost replace it. There was only one thing that we found missing in this application: free transform function.

For now, I’ll try to use Paint.Net with Photoshop, but if new versions show improvement in segments I am using on every-day basis, there is potential to completely replace Photoshop from my computer. This would save me $400-500 every time I want/need to upgrade and not to mention it works well on a netbook.

We just have to wait and see, but if there is such a thing as a perfect photo editing application, Paint.Net comes closer than Photoshop CS4. And that is something Adobe should seriously consider in the upcoming era of Cloud computing.