As much as we love Microsoft's efforts over the years to create wonderfully lush, soaring, audio fanfares to accompany Windows, most people probably don't give them two seconds thought.
Still, Microsoft spends an amazing amount of energy on these tinkling, synthesized sounds. For Vista they apparantly brought onboard 10 sound engineers to submit around 2,000 submissions over the course of two years.
Which brings us to Windows 7. Amid the latest tweaks Microsoft has announced it will add to the upcoming Windows 7 Release Candidate, is this little titbit: in a bid to improve performance, Microsoft has trimmed the shutdown and logoff WAV files.
The payoff for this audio edit? A saving of "up to" 400 milliseconds. That's right, Microsoft is so keen to let everyone know it is serious about performance in Windows 7 that it's shaving slivers off Windows sounds.
Incidentally, the Vista shutdown sound was noticeably less irritating than XP (see the differences here). The XP effect was a lush, over-the-top effort, while the Vista version was noticeably less "synthesizer" and more "tinkly".
The worst? In our view, it's Windows NT Workstation 4.0.
In addition to the sound tweak, Microsoft has made a number of other tweaks to Windows 7, including handy close buttons in taskbar lists, better file indexing, a new "eject" function for USB drives and other hardware, and less confusing system partitioning and dual boot partitioning.