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Windows 11 features ethereal new startup sound, swirly wallpaper

Goodbye, Windows logo. Hello, mysterious blue blob.

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Microsoft/Screenshot by Oliver Padilla/CNET

Announced Thursday and rolling out this winter, the upcoming Windows 11 operating system's key selling points are its 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.

The 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.

There are still several months to go before Windows 11 starts hitting PCs, but you can see the wallpaper and hear the sound for yourself right now.