You don't appear to have answered the Personalisation vs. Branding question.
I can understand the need not to create the most homogenised lowest common denominator sound, but that doesn't mean leaving everyone with a single soundscape.
Couldn't the same sounds be recorded in a slightly different set of instruments / styles just to give a bit of leeway for users to customise their experience? e.g. using the same micro-compositions throughout, but giving people 2 or 3 versions of each sound using different instruments.
It does appear to me that Vista's veered too close to the apple "one-size-damn-well-better-fit-all" approach. Strong branding's alright, but I'd like a few more knobs to fiddle with (all around the UX, not just on the sounds front.)"
Good observation, Massif -- we wanted to provide additional inbox Sound Schemes besides the default set, but in the end, that plan did not fit into ship schedule. Of course, it is still relatively easy for users who really wish to create their own Personalized sound schemes using their own sounds.
In our original Sound Scheme plan, recommended that we ship a 'minimalist' scheme, a 'home' scheme a 'Fripp' scheme, and a 'Classic XP' scheme along side the default Windows Vista sound scheme -- although these sounds and sound schemes exist, it was not considered to a priority to get these inbox relative to the very hard task of sticking to the RTM date.
So these remain an available aspiration for future releases.
Also, I would not necessarily characterize the default sounds we chose as 'homogenised lowest common denominator.' IMHO, 'lowest common denominator' would be silence. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the primary driving influence for the design of the default sounds was to offer a subtle compliment the translucent, rounded, AERO glass UI.
I hope this helps provide some context for this default sound UX (and I also hope that we'll find an appropriate ship vehicle for some of the other great stuff we captured in these sessions.)
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