Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The world's most viewed photo


When you think iconic photos, images such as Alfred Eisenstaedt's V-J Day in Times Square or the Vietnamese "napalm girl" shot by Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong Ut, spring to mind.

However, the reality of the world's most viewed image is rather more bland - it's Microsoft's default wallpaper for Windows XP.

Titled Bliss, the photo of rolling hills in Sonoma County, California has been viewed by over one billion people since its launch in 2001 and over 400 million official copies have been used in the past six years alone.

The original image was shot by photographer Charles O’Rear in 1996. He was driving along Highway 121 when he decided to stop by the side of the road and take a photo using his medium format camera.

Microsoft have blocked him from revealing exactly how much he was paid for the image: but he has since indicated it was a huge amount for a single photo - second at the time only to that paid for an image of the then-President Bill Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky.

As you can see from the photos below, Sonoma County remains a beautiful spot for photos with gently rolling valleys, dramatic mountain ranges and picturesque vineyards.

Photos: Rex Features and Getty Images



Now you can have your Instagram and eat it


Solange Knowles signed by Madewell


Stylist's live stream: the art project



Our kind of cauldron: darkly delicious Halloween cocktail recipes

Jacked-up Negronis and chilli-laced concoctions

by Amy Swales
25 Oct 2016

“Why we need to remove the term Essex Girl from the dictionary”

It's time to reclaim the term once and for all

by Sarah Biddlecombe
25 Oct 2016

Revealed: the 20 most fashionable baby names in France

These melodic French baby names are très bien

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Oct 2016

Small fibs could turn you into a full-blown liar, study finds

“What a tangled web we weave...”

by Anna Pollitt
25 Oct 2016

Bake Off’s Mary Berry confirmed for brand-new cooking show

And it’s hitting our screens in time for a very Berry Christmas…

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Oct 2016

This 'Very British Problems' Twitter account is all of us

"Best weekend activity: a really nice sitdown"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Oct 2016

13 Going on 30 is the latest film to get a musical makeover

by Amy Swales
24 Oct 2016

This streaming service is so boring it will send you to sleep

Forget Netflix and chill

by Harriet Hall
24 Oct 2016

Poldark slammed by women’s rights campaigners as “romanticising rape”

“It’s worse than if it had been a straightforward rape scene”

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Oct 2016

The selfie vs. the group photo: which actually makes us happier?

Time for an Instagram break?

by Moya Crockett
24 Oct 2016