How Microsoft Chose New Windows Sounds

Some musicians spend 18 months working on a whole album. At Microsoft Corp., that's how long it took to perfect just four seconds of sound.

Of course, this isn't just any four-second clip. It's the sound — a soft da-dum, da-dumm, with a lush fade-out — that millions of computer users will hear every day, and perhaps thousands of times in total, when they turn on computers running Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.

To set the right tone — clean, simple, but with "some long-term legs," according to Microsoft's Steve Ball — the software maker recruited musician Robert Fripp.

Fripp, best known for his work with the '70s rock band King Crimson, recorded hours of his signature layered, guitar-driven sound for the project, under the close direction of Ball and others at Microsoft. Then, it was Ball's job to sort through those hours of live recordings to suss out just the right few seconds.

Audio: Listen to the new sounds of Vista in Larry Magid's report
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