Windows Vista system sounds

When Robert Fripp worked his magic on Windows Vista, everyone knew Vista is going to sound different and hopefully better. Now that Vista is literally peeking around the corner, not that it’s possible for a software to peek or even exist in the physical world, but if it were able to peek, what would it sound like? And how different would it sound to XP?

James Senior tried to help, but he was no avail. And that’s why I spent my entire evening (just kidding), half my evening coming up with this head-to-head comparison between Windows Vista’s system sounds and Windows XP’s. And only when you put them side-by-side, you can compare and judge which ones are better. You’ll hear sounds changed entirely, and even sounds barely changed at all. Although the sounds for speech recognition were not included since there were no comparisons in XP.

It is extremely interesting to note that all XP sounds were encoded at 352kbps, and Vista sounds encoded in 1411kbps. That’s 4 times the quality. And you’ll also notice the Vista sounds are all equalized at a lower volume than the XP counterparts, making them less annoying when you have your speakers turned up high. As well as, nearly every Vista sound is shorter than the XP version.

Have a listen for yourself.

[flv:vistasounds.flv 640 480]

I personally prefer the XP logon and logoff sounds.

Update: Microsoft’s Jim Allchin has more details about the Vista sounds (via Windows Now).

131 insightful thoughts

  1. I can’t help myself, but I find the new sounds pretty awful. With all due respect to Fripp, I cannot see his input – the sounds are basically very similar, only made with timbres which make them nearly undistinguishable from each other. They are lush beyond any meaning. Shutdown sound doesn’t sound anything like ending a session, which XP sounds did. And what is it with the badly sampled upright bass sound at Hardware Failure? I am really disappointed, seriously.

  2. The new hardware in-out-fail sounds are awful, but apart from that, there isn’t much to comment on.

  3. a lot better than XP’s sounds.. there’s less chance u can get a stroke when using your PC and getting errors 🙂

  4. I’m undecided. I think I would need to compare experiencing the sounds with their appropriate circumstances to fully give them a chance.

  5. LOL

    XP sounds better than Vista (what’s so special about the opening sound???)

    XP runs better than Vista

    XP is cheaper than Vista

    XP is proven software unlike Vista

    XP is familiar to millions of users

    XP was made over 5 years ago

    XP is the best and will remain on my computer for the next 5 years!

    (What a disappointment MS!)

  6. “View the alternative Soapbox Flash version if you are bandwidth impaired.”

    I think i am quicktime impaired. Seriously, mov-files should be banned from internet sites. They are useful only if you have a mac.

  7. “With all due respect to Fripp, I cannot see his input”
    I agree.
    I personally can’t believe it!
    Have any of use seen the Video of Fripp?
    He said he recorded over 2hrs of sounds!
    And all we end up with, are the XP sounds with a reverb and pitch change.
    LOL WTF!!!!!!
    HOLLY CRAP! MS what a waste of money it was hiring Fripp! Use didn’t use any of his great work!

  8. Scott C – isn’t it the case that all of your ‘points’ (apart from the first) are related to the fact that XP ‘was made over 5 years ago’?

    I’m sure you’ll be able to apply the same points to Vienna in how ever many years time…

  9. Personally I love the new sounds (minus the hardware connection/disconnection ones), I think they are much better than the extremely annoying XP sounds.

  10. Everytime MS reveals a new part of Vista (the name, the new theme, the new sound scheme) it always gets hammered by everyone at first, but people get used to it and many grow to like it. I absolutly hated the name vista at first, but now i’ve come to like it. I think the new sounds are OK, but why did they need Robert Fripp? It just seems like a waste of money to me.

  11. Yeah well, I can’t here these (yet) I have to downgrade from Vista RC1, but since I know this, the sounds are much better in RC1 compared to XPSP2(XP Service pack 2) But thanks Long!

  12. You forgot the showcase the one sound that we may very likley be hearing most of all; Windows Critical Stop. Out of all the sounds I’d be interested to hear that one. The “THUN!” in XP still jars me from sleep in a cold-sweat…

  13. Nicely done Long, as always. (…and Microsoft)
    I like them. The XP ones are aweful, I’ve always turned them off, but I may leave these on. A lot more subtle.
    Kind of a Star Trek TNG/ early digital synthesis feel to them.
    Personally I’m glad I won’t be hearing Fripps whining guitar 30 times a day.
    Thanks Ants …Thants

  14. Im dissapointed that a few of the sounds are just modded versions of the old ones, but I guess these are only the legacy sounds.

    On the whole though, I love these sounds. XP was way too in-your-face, annoying and loud. But the Vista sounds are just chilled, laid back, and fits the whole clarity aurora theme. Glad this is another thing they have listened to us on.

    Good work.

  15. Oliver M, my points were stating “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”…

    Honestly, what is wrong with XP? Why all this unnecessary overhaul in the GUI? Why make this OS require at least 1GB RAM and a super fast CPU? I know some of you will say “economics requires new OSs for new hardware” or “XP was a security risk!” but really, couldn’t all those issues have been addressed with a Service Pack 3 or something?

    If I ever use Vista as a permanent replacement to XP, it will be because it came with my PC, not because I was wowed to death with all these minute changes to basic functionality or whatever.

    Vista feels like OSX 10.3 and 10.4….unnecessary upgrades since 10.2 (equivalent to XP in importance) gets you everything you honestly really need…the rest is fluff…

    🙂 I always rant Long…sorry…

    BTW – I agre eon the .MOV thing…kinda weird for a pro-MS site to use MOV files.

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  18. I agree with Mike above too. The vista sounds are all too subtle for me. I mean, what have they done to the battery critical sound! It doesn’t sound the least bit critical to me, unlike the XP sound.

  19. XP has sounds that sound the way they should. Of course, Vista’s sounds are cooler, and they will grow on me.

  20. i like the new vista sounds. they are more lively and yet less intrusive. most importantly, CHANGE IS GOOD.

  21. I’ve got to say that even though I’m a die-hard Mac user, I’m quite impressed (with everything except the hardware sounds).

    Let’s say each major revision of Windows (and a couple failed revisions) represented one core idea, one thing that Microsoft mastered on their long, slow crawl towards GUI adulthood.

    DOS: Prenatal (the heart beats, there is brain activity)

    Windows 1.0-2.0: Functional Basics (learning to walk/talk etc.)

    Windows 3.0-3.1.1: Learning (learning basic reading, writing, arithmetic)

    Microsoft Bob: Tried at beauty, but it was like junior prom – You had no idea how dorky you looked. Nonetheless, overall it was a small, tentative step in the right direction.

    Windows 95: Competency (Imagine Windows 95 as a fresh high-school graduate.)

    Windows 98: Advanced Competency (imagine 98 as a fresh college graduate – book-smart, but naive about the world)

    Windows ME: First Failure (the graduate’s tough introduction to the real world, and learning that sometimes, his bright ideas suck.)

    Windows 2000: Atonement. (After honestly rethinking his priorities, Windows goes with an idea that’s been floating around in his head for years, presents it, and is astounded when everybody loves it.)

    Windows XP: True Love (Windows falls for Internet, the gorgeous, witty daughter of Unix that he’s known since grade school, but has never seen… quite like this… before. They fall madly in love and do everything together.)

    Windows XP SP2: Heartbreak (Internet is a backstabbing bitch, and has been seeing all sorts of unsavory types behind his back, but with a few good fights and some counseling, they save the relationship. However, things are never quite like they were before.)

    Windows Vista: Maturity (Older and wiser, Windows begins to dress nicely and to pay real attention to the parts of himself that had been neglected before)

    Next: Midlife crisis?

  22. Charles…..LMAO…..

    “Internet is a backstabbing bitch”

    I thought I was the only one weird enough to come up with analogies like this comparing techy nerd stuff to interesting to non-nerds real world stuff.


  23. i think overall the vista sounds are improved over the XP ones, and similar enough to be familiar.

    and as for Demens’ comment: “Seriously, mov-files should be banned from internet sites. They are useful only if you have a mac.”: i can view quicktime on the web without any problem, and i’m on windows XP *shrug*

  24. Agree with the new hardware sounds. Aweful! Everything else is subtle and nice, but what’s with the ‘tada’ sound? I’ve never heard that in XP only in the earlier Windows.

    That Vista startup sound is so innocent and optimistic; Where’s tha equivalent grand and splendor orchestrial opening that will notify the whole office that Windows XP is ready!

    on another note: the startup could have been: (I like this one better IMHO)

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  26. I’ve always turned off the XP sounds as they were a little too bold in my opinion. I hated turning on my machine in a large classroom or meeting as it exhibited a “look at me” attention grabber. The new sounds are more subtle but I’ll have to use it a little more to see if I’ll leave them on.

  27. I was never a big fan of XP sounds, but those from Vista suck big time. And to think about that Channel9 Robert Fripp video – that was so organic. What a HUGE letdown.

  28. Anything that would have Fripp, the Edgar Allen Poe of music, has got to be good.

    Too Much is not enough.

  29. Well… the XP sounds have some advantages. For example, critical battery in Vista just sounds too airy and light. It doesn’t convey ‘critical’ at all.

  30. The Windows Vista sounds in RC2 were the same as Windows XP. Now, hearing the sounds that are included with Windows Vista I am not bothered that they were not in RC2. I clearly didn’t miss much. These sounds, except for the startup sound, are crap. The “changes” are subtle to none, some of the sounds if you listen carefully have either just been reversed or slowed down. Wimpy is the word. Sounds like a sound you would have on a portable device not a laptop and certainly not a full size desktop machine!

    I wrote a blog post on this:

    -Sebastian Prooth

  31. i think i prefer some of the “fake” vista sounds to these.

    and i agree that Fripp’s input doesn’t seem apparent. it looks like they asked him what the old sounds should’ve sounded like and he told them.

    they’re not new or different per se, they just seem a little better than the originals.

  32. I would have to agree with those of you who say that Vista’s sounds are not as stand-outish as the ones in XP. I didn’t hear the Vista startup sound though. But maybe that’s because my screen reader’s voice got in the way. BTW, I hear MS is replacing their voices with new ones. For example, Sam sounds as if he’s gonna croak any day now! I actually did hear a short sampling of one of the new voices somewhere, and she sounded much better. I have to admit I’m really impressed by the work MS has done with the assistive technology market.

  33. the only sound I liked was vista startup. besides that, pretty nothing. I can make so much better sounds myself and in 5.1ch. hope they want to fix this anytime soon.

  34. So, why don’t all you whiners just get your own personalized sounds for those weenie windows boxes you use? Windows freaks…..Linux with beryl looks better and if I choose sound, I’m smart enough to get my personal sounds & put them where I need them.


  35. I gotta say, the new ones are horrible, the pack that came out a while back that was meant to be vista sounds is much better, and gives a much better vista feel as well.

    The shutdown sound you gotta be joking. The logoff sound, how does that remind me of a logoff?

    And sounds like Chords, Tada, Recycle, Default, Hardware Insert/Remove/Fail are just horrible, they are meant to make me warm and fuzzy and think of vista. They make me want to run away and hide and think of Windows 98 or something. Plus they all sound more critical by far than the actual critical sounds.

    I think it’s horrible, the new startup sound goes just that 1/10 of a second too long imho. But i guess i can turn that one off and customize the others, as we cannot customize the startup sound can we?

  36. im thinking why did they introduce the official vista sounds in RTM and not earlier? Surely the sounds needed feedback (and constructive critisism) from our point of view and not just from their committee…

  37. This is sounds CORNY !!! With all the intruments and sounds that could be used in this world … this is the BEST THEY CAN DO???? why are they making a big deal about theses sounds anyway ???? are they trying to distract you from the important infomation about this Operation System ??? Like viruses and security?? sounds like Vista is gonna be no better then and will suck much worst the XP !!

  38. Yeah I can see it now…

    Fripp comes up with 2 hours of various different sounds, most are truly revolutionary and inspiring. He throws in some real boring ones that took a few seconds each to make on an old commodore 64, just to provide some historical contrast on how good his best ones are.

    A committee of top microsoft marketing suits and mssively overpaid ‘independent pychometric consultants’ review the entire two hours of bleeps boings and swooshes several times over. They all decide the safest career move is to avoid risking being controversial so like sheep they all go with the most bland, dull and corporate-sounding ones they can find in the whole collection.

  39. Hmmm….

    RF’s work the Crimson, especially in the days when they were good, is well respected. But I was at a soundscapes show where he was, deservedly, slow handclapped….can you imagine paying to see Windows live in concert ?

    Now Vista have these little sounds. ‘Close Encounters’ inspired anyone ? Some are less painful than XP, some aren’t.

    I’m totally under whelmed.

  40. Man, it still sucks so hard. It already sounds dated and it’s not even released yet. Microsoft is irrelevant.

  41. Does anyone know anyplace that you can download the Startup Sounds; Shutdown Sounds; Error Sounds; Misc. Sounds. Event Sound Utilities for Windows 3.1?

    Thanks so much..

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  43. Very disappointing sounds! To hear what Fripp MIGHT have done with this project, seek out Fripp’s King Crimson song “Lark’s Tongue in Apsic, Part 2” from the CD “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic.” There’s some real eye-opening guitar in that song! Oh well, big business wins & we lose.

  44. I like the Vista sounds much more simply because they aren’t as in your face. The XP sounds have made me jump when working in silence and forgetting the volume was high. Purely terrifying.

    Most of the hate is psychological, if the Vista sounds were XP sounds and vise versa, then the Vista sounds would be the ones that actually sounded like startup, log-on, etc. It’s all about what you’re used to. Guess some people just can’t handle change.

    Fripp did a good job. He understood what he had to do. It would make no sense to have the start-up sound a 30 second guitar solo.
    1. It would be loud and would demand attention (Windows IS the dominating corporate OS)
    2. To long
    3. People have instrument preferences. The sound should be made with a relatively neutral instrument, or without one at all.

    All in all, I believe a substantial improvement was made. Giving the OS’s sounds a less obtrusive feel. Can’t wait to try it out.

  45. The only computer I will ever use makes This sound.
    BTW, it is the sound that every mac made since the Quadra 700, 1991.

  46. you know, sounds like those are just a waste of time, in my opinion xp has better hardware sounds than Vista, I’ve heard the starup sound that anthony tam linked and is much better than the one in here, really I hope that the shutdown sound can be more like a shutdown sound, and the critical sound a real critical sound, I hope MS get serious on this one

  47. yeah i agree the new sounds are really bad. i dont know why people have been saying what a waste of money hiring fripp was, do you all really think microsoft is short of money or something?

  48. Hmm…
    PC means Personal Computer. So why then are the sounds handed down from up high so important?
    Make your own sound pack, create! That’s what these things (computers) are for.
    I did.

  49. well its kinda hard to say i like them both but i like vista a lil bit more better because they are more smoother

  50. ‘ordered a new laptop. Pre-installed Vista came with it.
    Now, i found out that autocad 2005 is not compatible w/ it.
    autocad 2008 will be compatible though, w/ what? have to buy again?
    ‘Need to downgrade to XP! what an insult MS…

  51. That’s why I still use the Windows 95 sounds with the OSWarp 4 startup and shutdown sounds. So plain, so beautiful…

  52. Where did you get your windows XP sounds can you pls tell me i wanna download them. Windows XP rox as well.

  53. well i rele dont like the vista sounds much, just installed it 2day and it sounds all modern although ill agree “Whatever” it wont give u a stroke..
    ass far as drivers it sucks at the moment but so did xp at first.

  54. Create Sound Event in Vista

    Hello there, do you know if there is a way to create a sound event? I’d like one to notify me when the internet disconnects

    Cheers, krystal

  55. I’m quite dissapointed…

    There’s too little difference between these and XP’s sounds…at least between Windows 98 and Windows 2000 there was more of a jump in system sounds. And 2000 and XP were the same way.

    These are just XP’s sounds on a different synthesiser. What’s going on, MS?

  56. Vista sounds off I agree but if you listen carefully it’s the exact same as XP except more gental tone to it

  57. ”maninder
    Dec 13th, 2006 at 10:38 am

    dude, these rnt even the real vista sounds…”

    Yes they are the real Windows Vista sounds. I know this because I own Windows Vista: Home Premium. Dont know the facts, dont talk.

  58. I find it funny that people are so bothered over stock sounds. I’m sure people who loathed the XP sounds grew to love them, and then when Vista came along, they hated them only because they were different.

    As for softness, I like it. I don’t like it when XP blares at you when you’ve done something wrong, but I do like the gentle alert of something happening. The sounds are made for audio cues, not telling you a story.

    Many people are complaining about the length as well. I don’t need a CD length opening when I start up my computer. I just want something short and simple, and to the point. One thing I love is the fact you don’t need to hear the startup chime 400 times a day when different people log into the same computer. You hear it once at system startup, and that’s it. A simple tone for each logon/logoff, but that’s it. Simple, neat, to the point.

    As for quality, advancements in compression have taken us rather far, and when the samples are as short as they are, they don’t need to be super high quality. There’s no need for a file that’s just saying I can’t click somewhere at this point in time.

    So, yeah. It’s just funny. I like em, personally. I hope Microsoft stays on the simplistic path.

  59. Ok I agree with you monkeys about the Vista sounds suck….. I do like some of the visual themes & wut not… Hey it’s a change…. But if you are poor like me or just want to wait for all those service packs or what ever MS is callin em these days…. For all of u XP users that want to spruce up the look, sound & feel of xp check this site out.
    This is a universal installer and the sounds are so much more amazing!

    Drink Killians Irish Red 1ce a day and all your problems float away!

  60. I do animation I still use XP when XP first came out it was prity crapy
    just when it got good they came out with vista ok 5 years from now when its all fixed up they will change.
    I wish they would come out with a smaller OS that uses less computer reasorses
    so my programs that I use them.
    MS being the domenent OS should go smaller smaller is better to much is to fat
    fat leads to obeas obeas leads to hart attack

  61. all of u are wrong vista is going to be way better when sp1 comes out change is good. the only reason that xp is known by everyone is because its “OLD” soon most people will have vista so i think most of u are wrong

  62. I like the vista sounds better exept two which I’ll just put on my USB whenever I go to vista, unless It’ll already be Vienna’s time! Then I’ll cusomise the PC. Those two are
    – low battery alarm
    – critical battery alarm
    They are very quite unless speakers are turned up high.

  63. I personally liked the vista sounds very much.
    best thing about vista sounds is that what ‘whatever’ said
    the xp error sounds give a heart attack at high volume.
    really calm and quiet sounds.
    xp had nice sounds but vista sounds matches the aurora scheme very well.

  64. Hey guys…how the f**k u can say..”Windows XP sound’s are much better.. ?:| For me Windows XP is just for it’s performance in games…on sound …it’s the most horrible sound !!! Windows Vista have’s the sound quality much better, sound’s much better and without noise..and are more lively,makeing u to like your computer and “feel” it…not like 80’s PC..:| (sorry for my bad english)

  65. I defenitely like, and prefer visa sounds. Thanks to my clever grand son Nick D.

  66. As the population ages, many (expecially men) will not be able to hear these new sounds. They are pitched higher than XP, and some are already out of my hearing range (according to this demo). Software is written by young people, so the “double click” cannot be slowed down enough for those over 90. Now with lower volume and higher pitch, the sounds ARE GONE ! Unless the Control Panel will allow volume for System Sounds to be increased and pitch to be lowered.

  67. i have vista & i can’t play music & talk on my mic at the same time where as on xp u can

  68. I prefer the Vista sounds a lot more over XP, not becasue Vista is far better, but because Vista’s sounds define relaxation a lot more than XP, which Microsoft has always been trying to do. How can anyone hate these?

  69. The base-sounds (like the “Tada, Chimes, Ding, Chord) are pretty dull. Otherwise, the Vista sounds are pretty good, keep it comin’ Microsoft!

  70. I downloaded sounds for my XP machine can I do that with Vista? I notice there is still a browse button can I just get mine from XP and put them in a folder? I miss when my mail comes in having Paul Harvey say Hello America now here is the news………

  71. some windows vista sounds are better, like those notifys and errors sounds, they are smoother, unlike XP’s, that make you sometimes get frustrated. But all other vista sounds aren’t better than Xp.

  72. can someone help me fix the sound on my vista PC? For some reason it goes on and off all the time. The volume is up. Where do I go to fix this? I can’t listen to any video at the moment. Very frustrating.

  73. I think some of the XP sounds are better vista. and theirs nothing spetial about the vista startup sound

  74. I for one think that people make up their mind based on what IT’s like myself say about Vista.
    Truth be told Vista is a very well made OS, with little annoyances that may turn some people off.
    But lets not forget that XP wasnt always so great either. Given time, Vista would have developed to an OS far superior to XP. and if a persons decision is truly based on sound, you know it can be changed on Vista ALOT easier than on XP.

  75. vista is a little more soft than xp… vista is like… you are disturbing mam… XP is like… FU lady! lol

  76. i think depending on which one your have heard first, then your ear would always stick to be honest my first time on a computer is with xp and the start up sounds and other sound programs are what i got used to. would say vista is more light to ones ears and xp is more coarse. so now i prefer my vista sounds than xp which i used to before.furthermore vista os are way much better and are progressing to buy peoples attention infact with their OS youre getting extra performance as they say which is true and more relax to the eyes with their aero stuff:)vista is king for me now 🙂

  77. The sounds that I really don’t like are the ones that sound like a quite spit. lol
    I did download use some of the old sounds that I had found that I like. I am the only one on the computer here so I like the sounds, others have said they don’t even have the sound turned on….I wouldn’t like that.

  78. Although I do not own Vista (I still have XP) I am very happy that Microsoft is finally making some improvements on visual schemes on Vista and the latest OS, Windows 7. I have downloaded visual packs from the internet so my XP looks like 7, and I love it that way. Sound wise, Vista sounds suck. After Windows 2000, Microsoft started making more and more BORING, quiet and shorter sounds, which I do not like. My favorite startup sound is Windows 98 and 95. 2000 and such were also very good as well. I wish I could download Windows 95/98 sound package, but I can’t find one anywhere. 🙁 Does anyone know a safe site to download one from?

  79. do you have a special download for vista starting sound?? i realy want that.
    or a download link for your amazing sound video!! please reply me on my youtube account sjonie1999. thnx 😉

  80. of course like your website however you need to test the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to tell the truth then again I’ll surely come back again.

  81. At night messing with the cpu, u forgot the volume was up, because at first u couldn’t hear anything so u turned it all the way up, not soon after the log in sound starts and your mother is like “TURN THAT SHET DOWN!, IM TRYING TO SLEEP! MATTER A FACT GO YO ASS TO BED!” all because of xp sound your in trouble….lol

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