The Windows boot sounds are unknown gems of the music world. Brian Eno was a collaborator!

12. Windows 98 Plus!

Legitimately awful. I can’t believe the marketing theme thought this was a good idea. If I heard this noise out of my computer, I’d try to put it out with a fire extinguisher.

11. Windows XP Home Edition.

God, they really couldn’t be bothered with this one, could they? Just slap four random keys and call it a day. No grandeur. No triumph.

10. Windows 8.

The slight syncopation and more percussive feel adds a bit of spice and freshness to the world of boot sounds, and yet the piece is as joyless and corporate as the company making it.

9. Windows Vista.

Nearly worse than the last one, except that the up ending reflects the feeling of success one feels when Vista finally fucking decided to boot for once. I’m still mad that this was generously given the label of “operating system.”

8. Codename: Whistler.

The clashy, jangly vibe this pulls is downright repulsive. I wouldn’t wish use of a computer running Whistler on my worst enemy in the unlikely yet still terrifying scenario that, while in mortal combat, we end up falling into a time machine and get dropped 20 years in the past.

7. Windows Vista Beta.

Techno-future garbage. But at least the harmony is a little more ambitious. Sounds like something a shitty club in Berlin would play.

6. Windows NT Workstation 4.0.

Still trash, but this is much less objectionable; after all, this is a legitimate product of the mid-90s. And there’s something mighty appealing about the swirling synths, the mellowed near-pure sine, and the innocence with which this was clearly composed.

5. Windows 98.

The vocals are simply angelic.

4. Windows NT Workstation 5.0.

Talk about cacophony. When those synths actually kick, it’s a pretty slick feeling. Damn, was 5.0 ahead of its time.

3. Trident.

No, not the bomb. Convention-breaking and legitimately futuristic. Fantastic.

2. Windows 95.

What a tremendous blend of future and past. The synths sweep in, soft, delicate – filtered glockenspeil greet the airy composition. Tension is introduced to the piece when the last glockenspeil strike is repeated in triplicate – perhaps startling the unwary user, causing them to believe their computer has hung yet again. The slight fade reassures the more alert and/or caffeinated. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we are greeted with a pleasantly familiar entity, the warm embrace of an old friend. I speak of the next entry in this very ranking…

1. Windows 3.1.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fucking fix it.