When you try Windows 11, it’s obvious that there are new sounds in the operating system. What may not come off immediately is that the new sounds are inspired by a push to be easier on the ear. Former Microsoft sound designer Matthew Bennett created the sounds of Windows 11 and explained the direction Microsoft went in with its new OS in several interviews with CNBC.
“The new sounds have a much rounder wavelength, making them softer so that they can still alert/notify you, but without being overwhelming,” said a Microsoft spokesperson to CNBC. “Just like we rounded UI [user interface] visually, we rounded our soundscape as well to soften the overall feel of the experience.”
Bennett echoes the same sentiments to CNBC. The piece includes audio samples comparing the new sounds heard on Windows 11 to their counterparts on Windows 10. Across the board, the Windows 11 sounds are less intrusive while remaining easy to identify. They also sound less harsh and digital.
Hearing the smoother sounds of Windows 11 back-to-back with those from Windows 10 immediately reminded me of another audio change Microsoft made, its read aloud functionality in Microsoft Edge. Microsoft’s natural voices on Edge sound smooth and lifelike especially compared to the standard robotic voices in the browser.
Earlier this summer, Microsoft explained that it designed Windows 11 with accessiblity in mind. The operating system’s new sounds also help people who are blind identify what is on their screen.
Bennett has since left Microsoft following 12 years with the company, but his insights provide a behind-the-scenes listen to Window 11.