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Image information
Original titleSailing on the Blue Sea
Licensed fromCorbis
Originates fromWestlight
PhotographerBill Ross
LocationAitutaki, Cook Islands
License typeRights-managed
Royalty free (Getty Images)
Windows information
SoftwareWindows XP
Original filename60131
File typeJPEG (.jpg)

Azul, originally known as Sailing on the Blue Sea, is a wallpaper included in Windows XP, licensed from Corbis. It was taken by Bill Ross in 1991, who also took Tulips which was also included in XP. It depicts a boat next to a small island with palm trees on turquoise water at Aitutaki, Cook Islands. Like Bliss, it also came from Westlight, a small stock photo agency bought by Corbis in 1998. It also appears on a card in cards.dll, where it has been cropped to show only the small island of palm trees.

History[edit | edit source]

Another photo of Aitutaki by Bill Ross, presumably taken on the same trip.

Bill Ross was on a trip to the Cook Islands in 1991. As a full time stock photographer, he was "aggressively" looking to take tropical stock photos, so he arranged a private boat tour at Aitutaki, where he took Azul at the lagoon south of the island, using Fuji 50 film. He felt that the trip was "quite productive and easily paid for itself". All of this info was provided during correspondence with Ross in late 2019/early 2020.[1]

In 2000, Microsoft licensed it for use in Windows XP, then codenamed Whistler. It was one of the first new wallpapers to be included with the operating system, along with Bliss, Follow (then titled Follow me), Moon flower, Red moon desert and Vortec space. It was titled "Azul" for the English release, which is Spanish for "blue"; the Spanish and Portuguese releases also title it Azul.

It was briefly taken down from Getty Images in January 2020, along with many other photos, due to Getty discontinuing rights-managed licenses. However, it returned as a royalty free image, oddly being placed in The Image Bank collection along with other Westlight photos.

Location[edit | edit source]

Much like other Windows XP wallpapers, its location remained a mystery for several years. None of its pages on stock photo sites specify where it was taken, so some people speculated that it was taken in the Caribbean.[2] Some people also suspected that the image was a digital composite, akin to Red moon desert. It would later be confirmed by Ross himself that it was taken at Aitutaki, Cook Islands through correspondence on Facebook.

Despite Ross stating it was taken in Aitutaki, the copy included in Windows XP has "Motu" in its tag, likely referring to Motu One, French Polynesia. This could hint that either Ross was getting mixed up or misremembering the location, or the tag on Corbis at the time was a mistake. It is worth noting that neither the copy of Azul on Corbis Westlight Creative Freedom or the leaked high res Corbis image have this tag, both of which state it is a generic location. It is unknown why the location was never specified to begin with.

Names in other languages[edit | edit source]

This section is incomplete. If you have any other translations, please add them.

Language Name Translation
Arabic لازورد
Portuguese Azul Blue
Czech Ostrov Island
Danish Øde ø Lonely Island
Dutch Vakantie Vacation
French Tropiques Tropics
German Karibiktraum Caribbean dream
Greek Γαλάζιο
Light blue
Hungarian Tenger Sea
Italian Tropici Tropics
Japanese ロングバケーション
Long vacation
Korean 열대
Norwegian Azur Azure
Polish Lazur Blue
Russian Лазурь
Spanish Azul Blue
Swedish Rörvik Rörvik
Turkish Azur mavisi Azure blue

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ross, Bill (January 1, 2020). "The Story Behind Azul". Reddit.
  2. Strutner, Suzy (January 24, 2014). "The Real-Life Places Behind Your Favorite Desktop Backgrounds Revealed". Huffington Post.

External links[edit | edit source]