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  • Blog Post: What’s up with the Beep driver in Windows 7?

    Earlier today, someone asked me why 64bit versions of windows don’t support the internal PC speaker beeps.  The answer is somewhat complicated and ends up being an interesting intersection between a host of conflicting tensions in the PC ecosystem.   Let’s start by talking about how the Beep...
  • Blog Post: Elliot Omiya, Frank Yerrace and I make a video…

    Charles just let me know that he’s posted a video that Elliot, Frank and I did talking about the audio features added to Win7 and some of the architectural decisions that went into it.   Enjoy!
  • Blog Post: A quick run through the new Windows 7 multimedia audio SDK samples

    As I mentioned yesterday, the Windows SDK is now live .  For the Windows SDK, there are 9 new samples (and one changed samples).    Two of the SDK samples demonstrate the WIndows 7 “Ducking” feature – they’re actually based on the code I wrote for my PDC talk last year , but tweaked to...
  • Blog Post: The Windows 7 SDK is live!

    I just received email that the new Windows 7 SDK is now live !  Apparently it’s not on the Windows SDK download site yet, but if you click on the first link, you can download an ISO which contains the SDK.  For the Win7 SDK, I wrote about 8 new samples in the Multimedia\Audio category, they...
  • Blog Post: A few of my favorite Win7 Sound features – Stream Switching

    Way back when I was in college, I learned Lisp using a derivative of Lisp called MACLISP (named for MIT’s project MAC, not for anything that came from a fruity company in Cupertino).  One of the coolest features that MACLISP offered was the (DWIM) command – basically if you had a typo when entering...
  • Blog Post: A few of my favorite Win7 Sound features – Capture Monitor (aka Listen to…)

    The capture monitor is a feature that allows you to listen to a portable media player (or any other microphone input) through your PC speakers.    First a bit of history.  Way back in the dark ages (Windows XP timeframe), audio solution manufacturers used to include an analog circuitry...
  • Blog Post: A few of my favorite Win7 Sound features – UI refinements

    Well, we shipped Windows 7, and now I’d like to talk about a few of my favorite features that were added by the Sound team.  Most of them fit in the “make it just work the way it’s supposed to”, but a few are just cool. I also want to call out some stuff that people probably are going to miss in...
  • Blog Post: Windows 7 fixes the PlaySound(XXX, SND_MEMORY|SND_ASYNC) anti-pattern

    A number of times in the past, I’ve mentioned that the PlaySound(xxx, xxx, SND_MEMORY|SND_ASYNC) pattern is almost always a bad idea.  After the last wave of crash dumps were received for this problem, our team decided to do something about it.  Starting with Windows 7, if you call PlaySound...
  • Blog Post: PlaySound(xxx, SND_MEMORY | SND_ASYNC) is almost always a bad idea.

    Whenever you submit a crash report to OCA , a bug gets filed in the relevant product database and gets automatically assigned to the developer responsible for the code.  I had a crashing bug in the PlaySound API assigned to me.    In this case, the call was crashing deep inside of the...
  • Blog Post: When you do UX work, sometimes you have to worry about the strangest things…

    I recently got a bug reported to me about the visuals in the sound control panel applet not being aligned properly (this is from the UI for a new Windows 7 feature): The problem as reported was that the microphone was aligned incorrectly w.r.t. the down arrow. – the microphone was too far to the right...
  • Blog Post: Why do people think that a server SKU works well as a general purpose operating system?

    Sometimes the expectations of our customers mystify me.   One of the senior developers at Microsoft recently complained that the audio quality on his machine (running Windows Server 2008) was poor. To me, it’s not surprising.  Server SKUs are tuned for high performance in server scenarios,...
  • Blog Post: Why specify SND_NODEFAULT when calling PlaySound?

    Because the alternative is often much worse.   Several months ago, I got a bug report that if you launched mmsys.cpl then set the “Select” sound to a value, then cleared the sound, the reporters application would ding whenever you moved around their tree control. I dug into the problem a bit and...
  • Blog Post: They just announced my PDC talk, so I guess I can mention at least the title of the talk.

    The PDC folks just announced a host of Windows 7 related PDC talks , one of which is mine. The title of the talk is “Windows 7: Building Great Communications Applications”.  You can find it under the Windows 7 track on the Microsoft PDC site .   The primary target for my talk is developers...
  • Blog Post: Why call PlaySound(NULL, NULL, SND_NODEFAULT)?

    Someone just wandered over to my office and he had noticed the following pattern in his code: PlaySound(NULL, NULL, SND_NODEFAULT); PlaySound( ".Default" , NULL, SND_SYSTEM | SND_ASYNC | SND_NODEFAULT); He was wondering why on earth the code would do that call to PlaySound (NULL). ...
  • Blog Post: Why doesn’t Windows support amplification of audio samples?

    Nils Arthur asked in another post: While we are talking volume controls. Could you explain why it's only possible to lower the volume in Windows (i.e. setting a volume between 0% and 100%) and not raise it (i.e setting it higher than 100%)? Before I get into the the answer, let me define some terms: ...
  • Blog Post: Whatever happened to Wave Out Mix?

    The Intertubes are all atwitter with reports that  Dell and other OEMs   colluded with the RIAA to disable the Wave Out Mix   option on new laptops. Wow, what a tempest in a teapot.  I just LOVE watching conspiracy theories as the echo chamber does it’s magic.   And of course...
  • Blog Post: What's this untitled slider doing on the Vista volume mixer?

    Someone sent the following screen shot to one of our internal troubleshooting aliases. They wanted to know what the " Name Not Available " slider meant. The audio system on Vista keeps track of the apps that are playing sounds (it has to, to be able to display the information on what apps are playing...
  • Blog Post: Analog to Digital Conversion

    Steve Rowe (test lead on the sound team) points to a great article from Ars Technica on D2A: If you want digital audio in a computer, you have to get it from somewhere. Usually that means taking analog sound out of the air and turning it into the bits that a computer can understand. Ars Technica gives...
  • Blog Post: What happens when audio rendering fails?

    Skywing sent me an email earlier today asking me essentially "Why doesn't Windows do a better job of handling the case where the default audio device goes away?"[1] It's a good question, and one that we've spent a lot of time working on for quite some time (this isn't a new issue for Vista, it's been...
  • Blog Post: An Overview of Windows Sound and "Glitching" Issues

    Nick White over at the Windows Vista Blog just posted an article written by Steve Ball , the PM in charge of the sounds team. It does a pretty good job of covering why my $2000 PCs sometimes glitches like crazy, while my $20 CD player works perfectly every single time. It's worth a read .
  • Blog Post: "Memory Leak" when using the Vista Audio API notification routines

    We recently got an internal report from someone using the internal audio notification APIs that they were leaking memory and they wanted to help from us debugging the problem. I took a look and discovered that the problem was a circular reference that was created when they called: CFoo::Initialize()...
  • Blog Post: The evolution of a data structure - the WAVEFORMAT.

    In the beginning, there was a need to be able to describe the format contained in a stream of audio data. And thus the WAVEFORMAT structure was born in Windows 3.1. typedef struct WAVEFORMAT { WORD wFormatTag; WORD nChannels; DWORD nSamplesPerSec; DWORD nAvgBytesPerSec; WORD nBlockAlign; } WAVEFORMAT;...
  • Blog Post: Hey, my custom shutdown sound got cut off (or didn't play). What's up?

    Chris Pirillo had an interesting blog post the other day with the rather uninformative title of " Windows Vista Sound Problems ". He has a reader who built a shutdown sound that is almost 2 minutes long, and that reader is upset that the system isn't playing his entire shutdown sound when he shuts is...
  • Blog Post: Playsound is failing on Vista! What's wrong?

    Recently BillP , the author of the antispyware application WinPatrol asked on the MSDN forums about a problem he was having with his application . His app called PlaySound(MAKEINTRESOURCE(IDR_WOOF), hInst, SND_RESOURCE | SND_SYNC | SND_NOWAIT) but it was failing (returning false). He was wondering if...
  • Blog Post: Blocking your UI thread with PlaySound

    For better or worse, the Windows UI model ties a window to a particular thread, that has led to a programming paradigm where work is divided between "UI threads" and "I/O threads". In order to keep your application responsive, it's critically important to not perform any blocking operations on your UI...
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