Windows 11’s new ethereal vibe, from the hypnotizing startup sound to the swirly wallpaper – CNET

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Microsoft/Screenshot by Oliver Padilla/CNET

Announced earlier this summer and rolling out starting today, Windows 11 offers key selling points of simplicity and ease of use. (Well, and the fact that Microsoft is killing Windows 10 in 2025.) But despite this emphasis on straightforwardness, Microsoft still aims to evoke a sense of wonder with its branding for Windows 11 — and that’s particularly evident in its revamped wallpaper and startup sound. 

Though Windows 11 is available to download today (even if you don’t get the prompt), you don’t have to upgrade from Windows 10 right away. Check out our comparison of Windows 10 and Windows 11 and find out what Windows 11’s best features are before making the decision. If you decide you don’t like the new operating system after all, you may be able to roll back to Windows 10 for a limited time. 

Read more: Windows 11 review: Microsoft’s OS upgrade is subtle, but we like that

Windows 11’s updated wallpaper retains Windows 10’s royal blue color scheme but ditches the right-aligned Windows logo — opting instead for an amorphous sapphire bloom at the center of the screen, etched with innumerable rounded folds. It’s part flower, part corporate-graphic-design blob art: nature imagery married with modern sleekness. In this way, perhaps, it’s a nod back to the days of the classic Windows XP wallpaper, the one with the perfectly sculpted grassy knoll and almost unsettlingly serene blue sky. (It’s equally hypnotizing, that’s for sure.)

Adding to the startup experience’s ethereal vibe is an all-new welcome-jingle: a crisp melody that ascends while a dissonant synth chord swells and fades beneath it. “Doo doo doo doo,” this masterpiece croons.

You may be waiting several months before the Windows 11 reaches your PC (that is, if your computer meets compatibility requirements), but you can see the wallpaper and hear the sound for yourself right now.

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