Windows Vista Team Blog

The Sounds of Windows Vista

Posted by Jim Allchin on Thursday, November 09, 2006 8:15 PM 19 Comments

When you try the RTM version of Windows Vista, you will notice that something changed between the last release candidate and the final product -- we added new sounds to the 45 places where Windows provides an audio cue to the user, including a new Windows Vista Start-up sound that was developed in collaboration with musician Robert Fripp.

If you have used Windows Vista, one of the most significant things you've likely noticed is the new Windows Aero interface.  While Windows Aero may sound like just a cool name, it's actually an acronym that stands for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and Open.  Prior to RTM, the Windows Aero experience was intentionally incomplete.  What was missing were the cool new sounds that were designed specifically for the Windows Aero experience.  While the Windows XP sounds were appropriate at the time Windows XP was built, they were very 'Western' and literal (e.g., you could tell that the sounds were played by a piano and other western orchestral instruments).  The Windows XP sounds were not consistent with the interface design goals of Windows Vista, so we overhauled the sounds to complement and blend with the softer, cleaner Windows Aero Glass theme and user interface elements for Windows Vista.

Sounds are obviously an important part of how people interact with their PC.  The idea is to use your ears to get information from a sound without even thinking about it.  For example, certain sounds on our PC tell us when we have a new email or instant message.

It was our goal for the sounds to be just noticeable enough that if they weren’t there you would miss them, but they’re subtle enough that they don’t get in your way.  Just like the visual cues of the new Start button, the audio cues of the new sounds are "rounded" and "translucent."  The default sound scheme in Windows Vista is intentionally much gentler and softer than in previous versions.

While I have personally been involved in the Windows Vista sound project for some time, the new sounds were only recently added to the builds (we had to save some surprises for people!), so I have only been experiencing them for a few weeks.  What is amazing to me is how much the new sounds change my experience -- and I know it will do the same for you!


P.S. -- here are a few interesting facts about the new Windows Vista Start-up sound.

The Windows Vista Startup sound:

  • is made of dual ascending 'glassy' melodies played on top of a gentle fading Fripp 'AERO' Soundscape
  • has two parallel melodies played in an intentional "Win-dows Vis-ta" rhythm
  • consists of 4 chords, one for each color in the Windows flag
  • is  ~4 seconds long, end-to-end
  • is a collaboration between contributors Robert Fripp (primary melody + Soundscape), Tucker Martine (rhythm) and Steve Ball (harmony and final orchestration)
  • would never have been possible without the great work of Microsoft's Steve Ball and his team.  There’s an interview with Steve airing tomorrow morning (November 10, 2006) on NPR radio (we’ll post a link when it's available), if you’d like to hear more about these new sounds and the process of generating them.

Posted by Gabriel

Will Vista RTM be available to beta testers? If not, should we uninstall the beta and return to XP? Is there a pre-RTM build that beta testers could use until Vista is released to the general public in January. I'm currently using 5744 and while much more stable than RC 1 I have a number of (reported) issues that prevent me from continuing to use it in its current state.


Posted by Dena: Vista Ready

Jim Allchin has just written up a wonderful blog post about the new sounds in the RTM of Windows Vista.


Posted by Alber1690

So what was the sound that was previewed to us in the video that was published yesterday on Soapbox to celebrate the Windows Vista completion? Because from my measurements, that sound at the beginning is exactly 4 seconds...


Posted by scott.weidig

Looking forward to it all the way.


Posted by かるあ のメモ

The Sounds of Windows VistThe Sounds of Windows Vista (Windows Vista Blog)


Posted by steve.wiseman

The has always been my favorite part of the final release of windows - the final touches. The gold copy always has some nice nuggets of ear and eye candy that the beta testers have never seen....All the way back to the Windows 95 / Chicago release. Great Job guys, and I can't wait to start testing our products with the final release.


Posted by Robert McLaws: Windows Vista Edition

Long Zheng has a comparison of sounds between Windows XP and Windows Vista. Jim Allchin tells us "why"


Posted by newscientist2000

I look forward to listening to NPR tomorrow.  NPR currently have some interesting comments on Zune which is another interesting project.


Posted by newscientist2000

Vista Express Upgrade Site Online Now... Go get your free upgrade for those who bought a Qualifying PC!


Posted by newscientist2000

Sorry ignore the above post, even though the site looks active it isnt yet!


Posted by MSGuayaquil


Posted by newscientist2000

Actually the site is active now but not for all countries the UK seems to be working, not the USA yet.


Posted by newscientist2000

Actually the site seems to be working for PCs with Serialized Upgrade Redemption Number's, whatever they are, however maybe the site is not meant to be an active site yet as there are still some typos on the site instructing you to look for your Vista COA on your Office CD?

Probably best wait till 13th when the site is suppossed to go active.  Sorry for the messy posts.


Posted by yanis-markin

sounds are good but we need a workin` version. Such things - are realy bad for 6000 RTM


Posted by ranadeep

Does Vista RTM Has Build  Number 6000 and its finalllll


Posted by yanis-markin


Posted by TechBlog

One of the final elements to be added to Windows Vista were its sounds -- the little tones, beeps and boops that go with system events, ranging from startup and shutdown to errors and notifications. Microsoft operating system czar Jim Allchin...


Posted by newscientist2000

Heres a link to a NPR radio article (Not sure if its the right one)

New Windows Has New Sound


Posted by newscientist2000

Its really interesting to listen to all the startup sounds for Win95, XP, 2000 and then Vista.  I think I personally like the Windows 95 sound the best then XP/Vista then Win 2000 last.

Hard to believe you had approximately 2000 submissions for the start up sound!

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