The Christmas season is often associated with staying warm (if you’re living in the northern hemisphere) and having fun, and there’s a rather recent tradition that combines those with tongue-in-cheek humor. Ugly sweaters are exactly what their names imply, intentionally designed to be ridiculously laughable so that there’s really no room for misinterpretation. Making a pun on being a “soft wear” company, Microsoft has been releasing such unfashionable wearables for half a decade now, poking good-natured fun at its own products. This year’s design is an ode to the early 2000s, bringing back fond and not-so-fond memories of one of the longest-lived Windows versions of all: Windows XP.
Parts of the Windows XP design have perhaps forever been engraved in people’s memories, at least for those old enough to be using computers by 2001 onward. The candy-like “Luna” theme, the familiar login sound, and, of course, the iconic wallpaper that’s actually a photo of a landscape in Sonoma County, California. It’s this wallpaper, named “Bliss,” that Microsoft is bringing in somewhat low-res quality to this year’s Ugly Sweater, taking wearers and onlookers for a trip down memory lane, whether they like to or not.
Bliss is simple yet captivating, basically a picture of a green hill against the backdrop of a blue sky and white clouds. As its name suggests, it evokes a sense of serenity and calm, which is hardly the emotions you’d associate with using Windows XP, especially when the dreaded BSOD or Blue Screen of Death rears its ugly head. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful and admittedly warm image, just the perfect match for a warm piece of clothing.
That is, of course, if you’d be fine wearing what is practically the Windows XP wallpaper, letting everyone see your loyalty to the operating system or to the company. It’s not a perfect recreation of the wallpaper, though, and is more pixelated than what you’d see on a screen. It’s almost as if someone booted the sweater in Safe Mode, and there’s probably some underlying message there that we missed. And yes, there’s a very large mouse cursor there, fortunately pointing nowhere embarrassing.
This year’s Windows Ugly Sweater does have some hidden beauty, at least in how it is trying hard to save the environment. Specifically, Microsoft has partnered with The Nature Conservancy for this project, though exact details haven’t been laid out. At least you’ll be feeling a little good about yourself every time you intentionally put a large target on your back by wearing such an incredibly comical sweater this holiday season.
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