In an age where fascination was easily piqued by the most basic of electronic breakthroughs, Windows sound events made computing all the more thrilling – until they didn’t.
You probably have a very specific relationship with these, so this collection of the most iconic retro Windows OS sounds is bound to take you back (don’t say we didn’t warn you).
“The Microsoft Sound” (Windows 95 Startup)
In search of a 3.25-second-long piece of music that was “inspiring, universal … optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, [and] emotional,” Microsoft executives tapped in to ambient genius Brian Eno for a startup sound, and he responded with a serene six-second lapping fanfare that became a sound mascot for the brand (ironically, it was composed on a Mac.) It sounds even more gorgeous when it’s processed to sound 25 times slower.
First heard on the 1991 release of Windows 3.1, Microsoft’s “Tada” was a trumpeting, often annoying user cheerleader, but before Microsoft ever contracted Eno, it also sounded on successful boot-ups, as if to suggest that itself was worth celebrating.
This sound event was one of the more helpful ones, there to let you know your download was successful, your software successfully installed; it let you know it was actually worth returning to your computer, and considering the load time on these things, that was a godsend.
Hard and abrupt, this error sound was never a good sign, but it was so freely written into the programming that you probably got used to it if you didn’t just toggle it off.
Remember Clippy, the anthropomorphic paperclip that always chimed in when you started making a document? Microsoft often wanted to give you all kinds of unsolicited tips, and they developed many (annoying) mediators for them.
Depending on when you heard it and what you put in the recycling, this could either be the most satisfying or most horrifying sound you ever heard.