A ridiculous way to test your speaker volume levels ...

A ridiculous way to test your speaker volume levels ...

Summary: Are you a Windows Vista beta tester? Have you noticed that startup sound that plays just as the PC gets to the point ready to accept your logon password? Yes. OK. Well, have you tried to disable that sound? If you do, you'll discover something odd - that there's no way to disable it. No check box, no button, no setting. Nothing. Zip. Nada.Doesn't that beg the question - why?

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TOPICS: Windows
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Are you a Windows Vista beta tester?  Have you noticed that startup sound that plays just as the PC gets to the point ready to accept your logon password?  Yes.  OK. It's a strange example of an arrogant "Microsoft knows best" attitude displayed towards both home users and enterprise customers Well, have you tried to disable that sound?  If you do, you'll discover something odd - that there's no way to disable it.  No check box, no button, no setting. 

Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.

Doesn't that beg the question - why?

First off, let me admit to something.  I HATE unnecessary sounds coming from my PC.  I'm a visual person and I detest (with a passion) all the clicks, whirrs and little jingles that Microsoft puts into Windows and their applications.  One of the first things that I do when I install Windows is to head off into Control Panel, find the sounds applet and kill off all the sounds.  This way, if an email comes in or someone starts talking to me on MSN while I'm on the phone, I don't get treated to some inane jingle or irritating sound.  Put simply, I just don't like my PC experience being randomly peppered by event-generated sounds.

However, under Windows Vista, the thinking seems to be that we'll have to live with this annoying jungle at startup (short of hacking the file).  So why does Microsoft think that we need this jingle at start up?  Well, Robert Scoble discovered something interesting the other day when he talked to Steve Ball, Group Program Manager for the Windows Audio Video Excellence team:

“Why the hell would you want to do this in the first place?” he told me is a common question. It boils down to two sides of the coin.

1. A spiritual side of the branding experience. A short, brief, positive confirmation that your machine is now conscious and ready to react. You can turn on your Vista machine, go eat some cereal, while your machine is cold booting and then this gentle sound will come out telling you that you can log in. You won’t need to wait for your machine to startup, he says.

2. Volume control in a Windows machine is a wild west. A mess. The startup sound is designed to help you calibrate or fix something that got out of wack when you startup your machine. Let’s say you muted your machine, and you don’t hear your startup sound, you know you aren’t ready to listen to stuff. The Xbox has a hard-wired startup sound. There is one way to mute it: to turn down the speakers that are connected to your Xbox. Same will be true for Windows Vista.

So, to calibrate out sound levels, Microsoft thinks that we need a sound that plays at startup - each and every time Windows starts up (cue jokes about the number of times that this sound will play due to reboots following crashes, and that if it was a record it wouldn't be a problem because it would have worn out after a day or so).  Ummm, I might be mistaken, but isn't there some better, less obtrusive way that this could be done?  I don't know about you, but the idea of a jingle blaring out of the speakers while I'm waiting to log into my system doesn't sound like a good speaker volume test to me. 

It also doesn't make any sense having a sound at startup to set your speaker levels by because there's no such thing as normalization for sounds within Windows.  You can set the volume so that the annoying startup jingle is at a bearable level only to find that you have to jack the volume levels up or down to hear something else.  I know, I've tried.  If you use headphones regularly (in conjunction with a particular application, for example), this startup jingle makes that hazardous to say the least.

Also, volume levels and branding and marketing aside, there are plenty of scenarios, both at home and at work, when you want your PC to be quiet.  The scheme also falls apart for notebooks, where the speaker volume is controlled through software that you can't get at until the system has booted up.

You know what I'm beginning to feel about Vista - that it's been in the pipeline for far too long and that far too many people are trying to leave their mark on it, like an artist's signature, only not in the form of an unobtrusive squiggle in the corner, but instead as annoying fixed features.  It's a strange example of an arrogant "Microsoft knows best" attitude displayed towards both home users and enterprise customers (part of this stems from the fact that too many people working at Microsoft have never actually been enterprise customers who have worked elsewhere).

Microsoft - give us a way to kill the startup sound.  Vista already has a great in-built system that allows users to test their speakers. 

Topic: Windows

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10 comments
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  • like an artist's signature

    You're really being much more generous than the facts suggest. I think the territory marking is far more primitive -- look to the animal kingdom for the closer metaphor.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • I leave the jokes to you guys!

      :-)
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Strange example?

    > It's a strange example of an arrogant "Microsoft
    > knows best" attitude displayed towards both home
    > users and enterprise customers

    Strange example? Nay, Adrian, it's a perfectly common example.
    dave.leigh9
  • I can just picture it . . .

    At the scene of an apparent suicide:

    Officer: What happened to your husband, Ma'am?

    Wife: He just couldn't listen to the boot sound on his computer!! After the Hundredth time we heard it today, he walked out of the house into the path of an oncoming truck . . .
    jlhenry62
  • Surely a theme editor for Vista will come.

    This will allow you to change the sounds, like the startup noise, to whatever you wish. In the mean time, there should way a way to change the sound from the Control Panel sounds applet, unless they're holding off on that untill the full public release.

    Think of it this way: Instead of some annoying jingle, this could be playing at startup:

    [b]We are Microsoft... You will be assimilated... RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.[/b]
    Mr. Roboto
    • This "noise" isn't part of a theme

      ... it's hard wired into Vista.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Re: ridiculous way to test speaker volume

    just another good example of the BloatWare named Vista.
    andyILM
  • Just a bunch of useless noise......

    In my experience, the less a person knows about computers, the more likely they are to have all sorts of idiotic, decibel wasting noises coming out of their machine. There are also those who just adore a constant state of noise in their environments.

    I've met many that were very agitated by Windows' default noises but were too ignorant to know how to shut them off. They figured out how to mute their speakers and left them that way to avoid the constant noises. As far as I'm concerned the Windows volume control should include an option for "Shut off all idiotic and unnecessary Windows sounds".
    shawkins
  • RE: A ridiculous way to test your speaker volume levels ...

    Computer programs should not produce unwanted sounds. Providers who insist that their programs violate this should be shunned. I have MSN explorer installed. It's a poor contender in that it won't open links in an email in separate tabs. Tabbed browsing should be the standard today. That, coupled with the obnoxious sound, leaves me with little reason to stay with the ISP, Q.com. When I went with Quest, I didn't study enough to realize that the most practical way to implement my account was MSN. I won't make a similar mistake again. Pox on Microsoft.

    Sincerely,

    Robert H. Galloway
    Robert Galloway
  • RE: A ridiculous way to test your speaker volume levels ...

    Um....to the person who wrote this article, seriously, take a chill pill. If you can't stand to hear one little jingle once a day, then you're the one with the problem, not Windows Vista. Reading your little rant made me laugh-out-loud.
    Benjulious