Ever since it was announced that King Crimson prog-rocker Robert Fripp had been drafted to provide a new take on Windows sounds, the aural affair has been an interesting sideshow to the Vista story. Users reacted with horror when the idea was floated that sounds could be hardwired and many asked for an end to the shock of leaving speakers on high-volume at night only for the startup notes to deliver a nasty shock first thing in the morning.
Now Vista RTM users can listen to their software as well as view it. The final code has 45 audio cues, many of them sounding rather like XP sounds, others distinctly different. Jim Allchin comes over pretty excited at these changes, sounding a bit like a muso sold on the latest Philip Glass or similar.
"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), Allchin writes on the official Vista blog.
"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."
Allchin reckons that the Vista startup sound alone "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 [and] is a collaboration between contributors Robert Fripp (primary melody + Soundscape), Tucker Martine (rhythm) and Steve Ball (harmony and final orchestration)."
Four seconds? Maybe Fripp is feeling bad for all the 20-minute epics he and his peers put us through in the Seventies.
Anyhow, Long Zheng has the sounds handily packaged together here with XP for comparison.
The reviews are predictably split between those who believe the music was performed using smoke and mirrors to chin-stroking admirers but Robert Scoble is particularly scathing here.
"I wish Microsoft would have given me at least a few dozen to choose from for my own startup sound. Instead we got the sound that won't piss anyone off. Sigh. Where's the rock guitar sound? The edgy jazzy sound? The weirdo techno sound? If I were Steve Ball I'd come out with a free Vista add-on that adds back some of the funky sound that the committee killed. And, yes, a committee did kill this." µ
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