What you need to know

  • A new video by Jensen Harris explains the history of startup sounds in computers.
  • Harris was the Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience team and involved with Surface.
  • Microsoft removed the Windows 8 startup chime due to Windows on ARM and the increasingly mobile use of PCs.
  • The ill-fated Windows 8 startup chime will be revealed in a future video by Harris.

If you've been using Windows for the better part of your life, you'll probably remember a time when turning your computer resulting in a springy, upbeat sound. Starting with Windows 3.1 and going up through Windows 7, Microsoft was constantly tweaking the default startup music right up until it killed it with the launch of Windows 8.

As to why it was killed and why they attempted to bring it back? Jensen Harris, who had a long career at Microsoft being its Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience team, explains in a new deep-dive video.

The video is a fascinating and entertaining history of computers going back to Xerox in the 70s up through Windows 8, detailing the history of the role sound played in modern PCs. There's so much info packed into the 15-minute history lesson, but every minute is captivating and fascinating (e.g., Surface development began in 2008).

The reasoning for ditching the startup sound also makes a lot of sense — i.e., the times are changing — but it still makes you yearn for those simpler days of booting up a desktop PC.

Harris also does a great job of teasing much more info to come on his YouTube channel. For instance, he still has that abandoned Windows 8 startup chime that never shipped and plans to reveal it in a future video. He'll also discuss the ill-fated Windows 8 tablet mode in more detail, making his channel a must-see for lessons in Windows history.

Back to the startup sound in Windows — should Microsoft bring it back for a 'Windows 11?' Like all things, it, of course, should be optional and respect Focus Assist and maybe even ambient light sensors. But there's something to be said about that how iconic those sounds have been for many. Even Apple brought it back in late 2020 (after ditching it in 2016), so, why not Microsoft?

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