If anyone of you guys ever used a Windows computer with XP, you know what I'm talking about. This is an interview with the photographer who took the photo- Charles O'Rear.
I'm not sure how the photography business works- do most big clients ask for the originals? That would mean you have no control over the image. I would imagine it would be harder now with digital though. It seems like Microsoft knew exactly what they wanted to do with the image, they just didn't want to pay him royalties like a song- each copy of Windows XP would have meant the photographer gets a slice of profit.
On the plus side, he seems quite happy that his work has reached so many people, and he seems to shoot with Nikon gear. He did shoot the iconic shot with a Mamiya medium format camera though. I don't quite agree with him about not being able to reproduce the image with 35mm film though- I think if all you need is a good depth of field, just set it at the smallest aperture and fire away... But heck, what do I know.