David Papp Blog

The History of Windows Startup Sounds

Recently I read a great nostalgic post on mashable about this exact topic. Check out the video at the end of the post, that’s the best part.

They presented all of these sounds in a video slide show of sorts, but you needed to click individually on each page. I felt it would be great to take the same content but morph it into a single video (which I have done, see below) and I pasted all of their text for each one so you can read it all in a single glance. If find this works better for people who have limited time and want to see things “at a glance”. 🙂

(from Mashable article)

  1. Microsoft Windows 3.1 Startup Sound

    Back in 1992, 3.1’s startup sound was jarring and unpopular.

    This prompted Microsoft to create a more aurally pleasing version for its next operating system.

  2. Microsoft Windows 95 Startup Sound

    In 1994 Microsoft asked Brian Eno to create a piece of music that was (in his words) “inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental [and] emotional.”

    The resulting seven seconds — about twice as long as Microsoft’s initial brief requested — has made tech history as a recognizable “sonic logo.”

  3. Microsoft Windows NT Startup Sound

    In 1996, Windows NT 4.0 revealed a fresh, futuristic sound.

    Legend has it that the shutdown sound played the startup sound backwards.

  4. Microsoft Windows 98 Startup Sound

    Microsoft audio producer Ken Kato is credited with the creation of the Windows 98 sound.

  5. Microsoft Windows 2000 Startup Sound

    Microsoft tinkled the ivories with its professional “2000” operating system.

  6. Microsoft Windows ME Startup Sound

    The consumer-aimed “Millennium Edition” shared the same audio.

  7. Microsoft Windows XP Startup Sound

    The startup chime (and other system sounds within XP) are based on live orchestral recordings.

    Composer Bill Brown worked with Emmy-award winning sound designer Tom Ozanich to create the audio.

  8. Microsoft Windows Vista Startup Sound

    The Vista startup sound was a collaboration among progressive rock guitarist Robert Fripp, record producer, musician and composer Tucker Martine and Microsoft’s own engineer (and musician) Steve Ball.

    In a blog post, Microsoft described the tune as having “two parallel melodies played in an intentional ‘Win-dows Vis-ta’ rhythm,” with four chords — one for each color in the Windows flag.

  9. Microsoft Windows 7 Startup Sound

    Finally, Windows 7’s default startup audio is the same as Vista’s.

Which startup sound was your favorite?

16 thoughts on “The History of Windows Startup Sounds”

  1. My favorite was without doubt the Windows XP start-up sound. Perhaps it’s because it’s the OS I knew I could depend on always, I knew even if I was running with 256mb of RAM it would still smooth smoothly, the only recent Windows OS like this. The sound itself is also quite catchy when I think about it, I still remember it all the these years after last using XP.

  2. Wow! Had no idea it was modified numerous times. For some reason, in my mind the sound never changed. It was always recognizable. Do Apple computer have a start-up sound as well?

    • I do relate to you pbjelycows. To think of it, it did really seems different from versions to version, but did’nt really notice until now, since in my mind, “Oh, thats Windows” whenever I hear a start up sound.

      The first version Of Windows that I have encountered was the Windows 95 (I am four years old at the time) and grew up expecting that The tune was the same from the start. But I think the XP version is the most popular one because personally, it makes me feel like I am the one booting up. 🙂 Good to know that we are actually hearing a masterpiece whenver we open our PC’s.

  3. Oh man, it was the worst thing when you didn’t realize you had your speakers up and the Windows 3.1 sound would blare loudly out of nowhere. I had a Packard Bell back then, and every time it would scare the bejeezuz out of me. I actually kind of liked the Windows 95 start up, as it sounded like I was really about to do something special, haha. Maybe it’s just because I remember the upgrade from the interface of 3.1 was pretty dramatic. Honestly, I don’t even notice the window sound anymore. I wouldn’t have recognized it if not for the Mashable compilation.

  4. I never thought that the Windows’ startup sound has gone through some serious evolution through the times. I like the latest tune the best–it’s subtle and just beautiful in the ears. The Microsoft Windows NT Startup Sound sounds creepy. It wouldn’t really make me use my computer if that would be my computer’s way to welcome me in its domain.

  5. Wow that’s so interesting. It’s nice to see the bit rate increase with each version of windows. I still have to say that I like windows XP the most.

  6. David, that was a great idea to do the video. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

    I hadn’t heard Windows 95 and XP in particular for so long. Hearing them again brought back memories, very much like hearing hit songs from days gone by. I would have to say those two are my favorites in part for that reason. But aesthetically they are richly harmonic and pleasing to listen to. I have Windows 7 now and in contrast, it is so sparse.

    It’s quite amazing the effort Microsoft put into these startup sounds over the years.

  7. I’ve been using Windows XP on other machines for so long and it has my favorite startup sound. Most of the startup sounds are actually soothing except for the first one. That did made me jump on my seat!

  8. Awesome post! It made me feel kind of nostalgic. The first starting sound I remember was of Windows 95. I remember turning on my grandfather’s computer to play Lion King 😀 And each and every sound brought up something. Thanks for putting this article and all the sounds together – it gave me a walk down Memory lane.

  9. This was a really cool article. I had never thought to go through the entire history of Windows startup sounds. Then again, I didn’t own each different version of Windows. This is a neat reference I’ll be sharing with some of my family.

  10. Wow! Who knew there were so many different variations of the startup sounds! I never even noticed the change.

    XP is the one which I’ve used most often and I guess that’s really the one which I associate the most with windows.

  11. I kind of like the vista startup sound more than the others. I think it is interesting that someone took the time to upload these sounds to youtube. It’s also interesting that the upload got so many hits. My favorite welcoming sound was Playstation 3’s. It sounded so futuristic and cool when you turned it on. How long until we can customize the welcoming/”turn on” sounds?

  12. My favorite is the Windows 2000 sound, although I think it should be a bit shorter. I’ve always thought the windows start-up sound was the same, only a bit different on windows XP. The Windows 3.1 sound is kind-of like a congratulations sound. I wonder if Microsoft wanted the sound to be like, “Hey! You use Windows, the best PC around… CONGRATULATIONS!” it just might be.

  13. I’ve always been pretty intrigued by the older start up sounds. It’s also kinda cool to see what the sounds were compared to today’s startup sounds. I’ve seen these “through the generations” kinds of videos, especially when it comes to UI. I loved the XP startup sound personally, just because it had such a welcoming tone to it.

  14. What an interesting flashback of facts. Windows computer start-up sounds have come a long way and has vastly improved since the 90’s I like the way that the Windows XP and Windows Vista ones sound. They give off that sound that makes you feel good about seeing your computer powering up.

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