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Microsoft Support: Computer Randomly Plays Classical Music (microsoft.com)
141 points by urbannomad on Apr 30, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

Considering this was developed in 1997, this is actually an ingenious way to get "Joe Q User" to call tech support. They boot up their computer, and music randomly starts to play, they get scared, shut down and call tech support. It certainly won't work every time, but considering that this has to happen all within BIOS while the CPU is melting, it's a reasonably good idea.

"indication sent to the PC speaker from the computer's BIOS that the CPU fan is failing or has failed, or that the power supply voltages have drifted out of tolerance"

Should have made it play "Daisy, Daisy, tell me your answer do..."

Fur Elise is cool, but playing "It's a small world" when you already have a hardware problem is just evil.

"It's a small world" hardly qualifies as classical music,either.

I'm playing Portal 2 right now and just heard the line "Oh no. He's playing classical music." Fur Elise is playing. And it means exactly this! I would have never got the joke otherwise. But I suspect that was the reason this was posted.

It isn't Fur Elise that is playing it is Little Prelude in C Minor.

The summary indicates that the music is played by the BIOS to indicate that the CPU fan is failing. I would have thought that it would be better to just play a warning beep; having music play randomly is a bit weird.

Once, a PC scared the shit out of me because the motherboard started talking at bootup (was a feature of Asus motherboards). But at least it was recognisable as an error message, just having music play randomly would be even more weird.

At least it's distinctive. Pretty hard to Google "my computer beeped at me" and expect to find much.

Yet another instance where Macs are better (well, at least the old ones) ;)


I had a Centris 660AV and I used to play that crash sound over and over, it was hilarious.

Why not play a recording that actually said, "CPU fan failing, call tech support".

It's the same reason why we still have beep codes and LED status indicators on our motherboards: You don't need to localize Fur Elise.

In Greek, we call it "Για την Ελίζα".

Because the music was in MIDI format, I guess.

MIDI would be overkill. A pitch-duration table along with the code to vibrate the speaker at the right frequency for the right amount of time would be far simpler.

It played over the piezoelectric motherboard speaker, the one that usually emits only a beep, and is intended to play a given frequency for a given duration. It's possible to use pulse width modulation to make mediocre digitized sound come out, but it is quite complex and would use a lot of BIOS space. A simple sequence of notes, however, is compact and easy.

A throwback to simpler times. Back then many datacenters were just a room where you had a couple of desks with some PC's on them. Maybe a Sun pizza box or 2. And people would be there to listen to the machine play "Fur Elise" when the power supply failed.

In today's datacenters where you have lines and lines of racks receding into infinity, and where you need to use hearing protection whenever you need to get in for 5 minutes to power-cycle some stubborn switch, I don't see a solution involving "Fur Elise" being too useful.

Has anyone here ever come across this?

I had two old computers that would play the first 2.5 notes of Fur Elise every time they were power cycled, before the fan was completely spun up. I only figured out what it was after holding the fan one day and recognising the tune.

Wow. I thought Microsoft were too uncool to include stuff like this in their code.

It's in the bios so it would happen if you were running any OS. Evidence of MS coolness still eludes us.

how about the flight simulator easter egg in Excel? that was cool

microsoft always included cool easter eggs in their products


Not anymore. After the lawsuit about including the web browser with the system they are no longer allowed to include undocumented features in their software. (citation needed)

no it wasn't then. It was around 2000 or so and more related to (as i remember) two things - securing government and enterprise contracts and public perception related to viruses and security. I was there as an employee in Visual Studio and distinctly remember the admonition from Brian Valentine that there were to be NO easter eggs in Win2K and on. They couldn't credibly say that they were in control of the security of the platform with people hiding doom levels in Excel and (in the case of Visual Studio) working slot machines...

Working slot machines? Please tell me more...

visual studio 6.0 - help | about, then ctrl-shift while double clicking the visual studio logo. the code name for the project was... vegas

EDIT: wow this isn't even on wikipedia. i feel like i'm revealing a MS secret. :)

ye hence my past tense because I couldn't recall one from more recent products. that sounds like a reasonable reason why they don't do it anymore

Excel takes 154MB in disk... that's why!

You were right : "This is a design feature of a detection circuit and system BIOSes developed by Award/Unicore from 1997 on."

So Microsoft actually suppressed this on Normal Mode, but not in Safe Mode. At least there's information about it somewhere, because I wouldn't expect it if I encountered it.

"During normal operation or in Safe mode, your computer may play "Fur Elise" or "It's a Small, Small World" seemingly at random. "

I submitted this about 9 months ago...


Oh, so THAT'S what that is! BRB, calling tech support.

I think you meant

OH! Good thing I know how to fix this now, damn PC got Fur Elise stuck in m[NO CARRIER]

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