Microsoft delivers calm system sounds in Home windows 11

Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks during an event of the Economic Club of New York in New York, USA, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Nadella spoke about the responsibility that technology companies need to shape the future of to adopt artificial intelligence.

Mark Kauzlarich | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Windows PCs have been making noises to indicate errors since the 1980s. With Windows 11, Microsoft redesigned these sounds to make them less stressful.

Windows remains the most popular operating system in the world, accounting for about 14% of Microsoft’s annual revenue of $ 168 billion. But it’s not always easy for Microsoft to please its hundreds of millions of customers because they have very different views about what Windows should be – including what it should sound like.

Windows 11 designers took their inspiration from an approach called rest technology, which was described more than two decades ago by two people at the Xerox PARC research laboratory. “Serenity is urgently needed in today’s world, and it tends to depend on our ability to feel in control, comfort and trust,” wrote Christian Koehn and Diego Baca of Microsoft in a blog post. “Windows 11 makes this easy with basic experiences that feel familiar, soften the previously intimidating user interface, and strengthen the emotional connection.”

Calm technology also influenced the evolution of Windows 11’s sounds, said Matthew Bennett, who created the sounds, after posting on Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Windows 11 stands out from its predecessors and competitors by allowing users to have one group of sounds that go with light visual themes and another group that goes with dark themes. The sounds are similar, which means people can recognize them when switching between modes, but slightly different. Applying a dark theme generally makes the sounds softer. They seem to echo, as in a large room.

“The new tones have a much rounder wavelength, which makes them softer so they can still alert / notify you without being overwhelming,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in an email. Just like we rounded off the user interface [user interface] We have also optically rounded off our soundscape in order to soften the overall feeling of the experience. “

Users can change the default sounds by opening the Settings app and going to Sound> More Sound Settings. But many people will continue to use the default sounds, as will many people who open Microsoft Word use the default font.

Bennett, who left Microsoft in February after 12 years with the company, spelled out several changes the company had made to its Windows 11 system sounds in several interviews. (Each of the audio files below contain the new sound, followed by its Windows 10 predecessor.)

Standard beep

When something goes wrong – for example, when you’re looking for text on a website and it doesn’t exist – and your PC needs to notify you, Windows 11 doesn’t make as much of a fuss as Windows 10. The new sound, which is made up of three ascending tones, starts at a lower pitch than the trill it replaces and doesn’t linger that long afterward, Bennett said.

The notes are not simply played by a piano or a marimba. Bennett said the sounds were “digitally shaped” and not designed to be reminiscent of a musical instrument. That way, they are less likely to get negative associations in different cultures around the world, he said.

Calendar reminder

Four rapidly ascending notes indicate that an event is imminent. The arrangement is much easier than with the seven-tone predecessor, which Bennett described as a clear beginning, middle and end.

After Windows 10 launched in 2015, it ran in schools and offices where background noise could deaden some of the calendar reminder sound. Then the coronavirus pandemic forced workers, teachers and students to stay at home where there could be fewer distractions. The new sound requires less attention in these environments.

Desktop mail notification

When you receive an email in Windows 11, you hear three short notes down. The new version is slightly faster – the one in Windows 10 had four notes and was held for a moment at the end – and registered a lower pitch.

It’s more of a gesture reminiscent of an email arriving in an inbox, rather than a voiced snippet. “I read it as a ‘message for you’,” said Bennett.

Connect device, disconnect device, device could not be connected

These next-generation Windows areas relate to the reduced effects that appeared in Windows Vista and remained available in Windows 7, Bennett said. Every time you plugged or unplugged a mouse, joystick, or other peripheral device from a USB port, or the computer didn’t recognize the device, these 2000s operating systems made two abbreviated, guttural sounds.

Windows 10 deviated somewhat from this concept with additional notes and different melodies. Each of the Windows 11 sounds is based on the idea of ​​two simple tones, albeit friendlier than its predecessors from the 2000s.

A tone pointing upwards indicates that the connection has worked.

If you go down, you have successfully unplugged the connector.

And two sounds imply a mistake, like the way parents who speak a variety of languages ​​quickly say “uh-uh” to warn their children to do something, Bennett said.

Instant Message Notification, Message Nudge

Calendar event and email sounds can be played frequently on Windows PCs, but sounds that indicate new instant messages are far less common, Bennett said.

But they’re still there, and they’re simpler in Windows 11. Three descending tones sound to mark a new message instead of a chirp that goes up and down. Windows 10’s message tone should contrast with the sound of email to reflect the varying rhythm of the messages, Bennett said. Now this distinction is more subtle.

The whole point of the message nudge is to signal the arrival of a new message coming in through a program you are currently using, but perhaps in a different conversation, Bennett said. In Windows 11, you’ll hear a note and then a slightly lower note. It’s shorter than the sharp Windows 10 sound, which is a miniaturized version of the Instant Message Notification sound in this operating system.


This sound, which appears along with certain “System Toast” boxes on the side of the screen, has also been revised. There are two slightly rising notes that are close together instead of four notes that rise and then fall. The sound is shorter and the last note doesn’t last that long.

Windows user account control

When a program asks permission to make changes to your PC, Windows 11 will display an eye-catching dialog box on your screen and play a sound. The result can have security implications, hence the notification.

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