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The Sweet Sound of Windows Vista

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There has been a lot of talk lately about sound in Windows Vista.

Recently Robert Scoble talked with Steve Ball, Group Program Manager for the Windows Audio/Video Excellence Team regarding plans to hard-code the start-up sound played just before the OS is ready for the user to log on to their PC.  To elaborate: right before the log on screen appears in Windows Vista, an animation of the new Windows "orb" appears with a non-customizable start-up sound.  The idea behind this is that it will help the PC user know that their sound is working correctly, its current volume setting, and that the PC is prepped for music and video playback upon log-in.  The Xbox 360 does the same thing when it boots up -- a hard-coded start-up sound.  Steve explains the idea in more detail at the above post.

Also:  Amir Majidimehr, a digital media expert and MS Corporate Vice President, explains audio processing in Windows Vista at the AV Science forum and details some cool changes coming in the Windows Vista sound stack.

Lastly, I should point you to this fantastic new whitepaper on the audio subsystem advances made in Windows Vista -- it really does a excellent job of elaborating on many of the changes and new features that Amir mentions in his forum post.

Windows Vista is starting to sound better and better ...

Comments
  • I don't know if I like this. I can remeber times when I forgot to regulate the sound intensity down after watching a DVD on my notebook on train-rides (with headset) - I always had to put it full intensity to understand what the actors were saying.
    You could proably guess my shock when I connected my notebook to the speakers at home - my ears nearly started to bleed.

    Otherwise I like the idea of a hard-coded start-up sound. But then please give us the possibility to deactivate all sounds on start-up or automatically adjust the volume  level to a toleralbe level (let the user decide what this level might be) - just as some car radio do.

  • I've had the same issue with my laptop, and not having a scroll wheel to change the sound before the Desktop loads can be quite a headache.

    I'm looking forward to the new sounds though, from what I've hear already with some of the sounds in the newest build it's gonna be awesome!

  • PingBack from http://www.music-video-blog.com/music-video/the-sweet-sound-of-windows-vista/

  • PingBack from http://kevindevin.com/?p=2337

  • The idea of an uncustomizable sound at startup is very bad. The idea of anything being uncustomizable is very bad. People have different tastes and I believe many people will find this startup sound annoying as many people find the current Windows startup sound very annoying. At least in the XP world, we have the option to not have that sound play at startup and this functionality should continue in Vista. Please, please, please reconsider. Thanks.

  • Mondsplitter : "I don't know if I like this. I can remeber times when I forgot to regulate the sound intensity down after watching a DVD on my notebook on train-rides (with headset) - I always had to put it full intensity to understand what the actors were saying.   You could proably guess my shock when I connected my notebook to the speakers at home - my ears nearly started to bleed."

    Hey Mondsplitter - there will be no bleeding ears for Windows Vista users.  For starters, all of the new system sounds, including the new Pearl Animation 'Windows Vista Sound' that plays on cold boot are all leveled to be 'comfortable' compared to standard DVD playback.  

    They will seem 'quiet' compared to Redbook mastering standards and compared to the XP sounds.  This is intentional, and you can already get a flavor for this in the beta builds if you listen to the new LUA sound or the logon and logoff sounds.  

    The timbres (orchestrations, the 'sound' of the new sounds) is also much more subtle than the 'literal' XP sound set was.    

    But you'll see for yourselves soon -- at RTM!

    * * *

  • DaWolf: "The idea of an uncustomizable sound at startup is very bad. The idea of anything being uncustomizable is very bad."

    Hey DaWolf - I'm not sure anyone who has designed a product would agree with this opinion.  For a designer, there are certain elements that are inherently tied to the identity of the product -- in Windows Vista, there are not many of these, but there are a few essential elements that are not meant to be 'customized' by the end user.  

    The Windows Vista brand elements (which this sound is a part of) is included in this list of essential elements that are not intended to be customized.  

    While this may be a controversial idea for power users who are used to the idea that every pixel, every element in the OS is meant for customization, this is a core value that is important to the design and marketing teams.

    I also believe the hype and fear about the supposed intrusiveness of this sound and alleged inability to 'control' this sound, while perhaps understandable given current  experiences with XP, is unnecessary.

    This idea itself has certainly touched an emotional nerve for a number of people in the beta newsgroups, in Scoble's comments, and even internally at Microsoft.

    The jury is still out on a final decision, however, I've now collected a compelling set of scenarios that I'll be presenting to the Windows Vista leadership team to consider for an RTM compromise.  

    * * *

  • For me this has nothing to do with being a power user or not, and everything to do with being able to avoid disturbing other people.  When I'm at a lecture, at a conference or in any other public place, I want to be able to start my laptop without annoying anyone else. If I forgot to completely turn off sound last time I used it (listening to music at home or watching a movie) I'll simply have to avoid the computer until I can get to a suitable location where I can turn it on, listen to the sound, log in, mute the sound (using the software-only controls), put the computer to sleep again and finally walk back...

  • Jonas:  "...being able to avoid disturbing other people."

    This is a valid and important concern, Jonas.    However, you may be misunderstanding how subtle this new sound and default level will be based upon XP.

    Also, like your cellphone ringing sound, you are still in 100% control of the volume and mute state of your machine.  

    If you forget to turn off your ringer on your cellphone, same situation.  

    My own belief is that most users will adapt (and have already adapted in mobile situations) and keep their volume set to "low" or mute until they have something to listen to.    

    This is really not that hard to do today, even with loud and annoying XP sounds.

    However, it is not ideal for those who wish for 100% customization or for those who NEVER wish to hear a UI sound.  

    But the RTM experience is also very very far from the "unmutable" rumors that have been spreading in the blogs and press.

    I just posted a number of responses to questions in the Longhorn beta newsgroups.   The climax of my latest post:

    "It may simply be the 'best' compromise to give everyone the potential to have a 100% silent boot without thinking or interacting in advance.    

    And, for the record this (reg key for RTM) is going to be my personal recommendation."

    * * *

  • NOOOOO!

    I hate the darn startup sound. Pisses me off. I have all sounds disabled, included startup sound so there should be none. Playing one anyways is just, wrong!!!

    Please dont do this!

  • There has been a lot of discussions around the net on the non-customizable and non-removable Windows Vista startup sound. Robert Scoble has a post that explains why the Vista team decided to design it...

  • First of all I want to express my appreciation to Steve Ball (Product Manager of WAVE - Windows Audio Video Excellence) for being the good guy here.

    Not only did Steve take the time away from his enormous efforts getting Vista to RTM, he took the time to personally interact with the community. And he kept his cool and _listened_ while some of us (myself included) closed our minds.

    Thanks Steve.

    Now this part is for those of you are _really_ bothered by the old XP Startup sound in builds 5742 and 5536. I've listed the steps necessary to remove this sound from these builds on my blog:

    http://vistahacks.wordpress.com

    This information will probably NOT work for RC1. And the directions assume a certain level of technical expertise in NTFS permissions. They also require that you download and install a utility program. You will be modifying a SYSTEM file.

    "AS-IS." No warranty expressed or implied. And not for the timid.

    Herbert

  • To Microsoft and Steve Ball, please reconsider this issue or better, simply ask the community, the users:

    Please understand that this isn't just about customizability, it's about using computers in places like hospitals, libraries, onboard flights, when someone's sleeping, or simply for privacy without distraction. Again, I'm requesting that you please reconsider, or ask the users.

    At least a registry value, so only power users would be able to change it. PLEASE.

  • PingBack from http://www.spyndle.com/2006/08/30/youve-got-microsoft/

  • By the way, is playback of WMA supported by the kernel in Vista like WAV audio?

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