Joe Wilcox doesn’t understand the fuss over the Windows Vista startup sound:
I’m baffled by all the significant chatter over something as seemingly insignificant as the Windows Vista startup sound. For anyone that missed it, Microsoft plans to have Windows Vista emit a distinctive chime when the system is booted up and ready for login or use.
Microsoft’s Steve Ball gave Robert Scoble some reasons for the startup sound, which as of current planning cannot be turned off: 1) “A spiritual side of the branding experience. A short, brief, positive confirmation that your machine is now concious and ready to react”; 2) “The startup sound is designed to help you calibrate or fix something that got out of wack when you startup your machine.”
First, let’s be clear that we’re talking about the startup sound, the one that plays when your computer turns on, not the logon sound that plays when you enter your credentials to access your account. The problem is that the startup sound is not customizable. It’s hard-coded into a system DLL. OK fine, but a side effect of that is that the sound can’t be turned off. And that’s wrong, wrong, wrong. The user should always have the ability to turn this sound off. Here’s why:
Imagine you’re a reporter and you’ve just entered the briefing room for a major announcement from a politician. You open your notebook, and here comes the Windows startup sound, blasting away. You could get thrown out of the briefing room for that.
Or this scenario: You and your spouse are staying in a hotel and you have to get up early to do some work. You slip out of bed quietly, to avoid waking her up, turn on the computer and the sound comes blasting out. A bad way to start the day.
Or you’re a student and you sneak into class five minutes late. Do you really want your computer to announce your late arrival? For that matter, is the world a better place when that damn sound plays 20 times as 20 students turn on their computers at the start of class?
If Microsoft wants to create a mystical branding experience with Windows, fine. If a hardware maker wants to slap stickers all over a new computer, that’s fine too. Just give me the right to remove or change that sound, in the same way that I can remove those stickers.