What’s the story of the onestop.mid file in the Media directory?


If you look in your C:\Windows\Media folder, you'll find a MIDI file called onestop. What's the story behind this odd little MIDI file? Aaron Margosis considers this file a security risk because "if an attacker can cause that file to be played, it will cause lasting mental pain and anguish to everybody within earshot."

Despite Wikipedia's claims[citation needed], the file is not an Easter Egg. The file was added in in Windows XP with the comment "Add cool MIDI files to replace bad old ones." So as bad as onestop is, the old ones must have been even worse!

Okay, but why were they added?

For product support.

The product support team wants at least one MIDI file present on the system by default for troubleshooting purposes. That way, problems with MIDI playback can be diagnosed without making the customer go to a Web page and download a MIDI file. When asked why the song is so awful, the developer who added the file explained, "Believe it or not, OneStop is 'less bad' than the ones that it replaced. (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, etc.)" Another reason for replacing the old MIDI file is that the new one exercises more instruments.

The song was composed by David Yackley.

On the other hand, we lost clock.avi.

Comments (45)
  1. Wyatt says:

    Sounds very 80's ish

  2. steven says:

    The domain yackley.com doesn't really point to anything useful (anymore).

    I'd never actually listened to this, but it almost seems like a medley. I am always hesitant to call somebody's work "awful", especially when it's the result of a creative process, such as composing music. I doubt it'll win any awards, but it's fun to listen to. Also, it's lightyears ahead of anything I could compose myself :)

  3. Why didn't they keep canyon.mid?  That one was a lot better.

  4. Jack B Nimble says:

    Canyon and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy were good. You people set your expectations too high!

  5. Canyon has a place in my heart, but One Stop isn't half bad, it's a nice mix of several genres; a bit anonymous, but what would you expect from a song to be put in every Windows installation?

  6. Michael says:

    The intro (up until about 0:37) reminds me of some of the soundtracks to some jRPG-style games.

  7. pete.d says:

    Ditto comments about MIDI files from the 95/XP era (Canyon, Sugar Plum Fairy) and about One Stop. I've heard way worse, on stage, where people actually paid to hear it.

    Give the guy a break Raymond…or at least, how about you post some of the awesome .mid files you've composed yourself?

    I've enjoyed the eclectic mix of music delivered with Windows over the years, and I don't find this much different.

  8. EduardoS says:

    Not so bad, in fact, by today standards it is pretty good.

  9. NB says:

    I like it.

    Have to see if there are any other good ones in the Media folder, been a while since I stopped snooping around in the system folders!

  10. CL says:

    The demo MIDI files (jazz.mid, reggae.mid) from the old Sound Blaster cards were written by Carl Franklin of the Dot Net Rocks show.

  11. Mike Dunn says:

    Was canyon.mid the background music for the Win 95 easter egg?  Now I'm nostalgic and I want to see that again.

  12. ulric says:

    no sound here when playing from Windows Media Player in Win 7.  Is Midi even still supported? I cannot debug this as the Midi Mapper has been removed from windows. searches for "midi" in help turn up zero results.  There is no reference to Midi anywhere in the control panels anymore.

  13. Feature request: Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz.mid

  14. kinokijuf says:

    What is the story behind clock.avi?

  15. laonianren says:

    @ulric: Works fine for me (along with "flourish" and "town") in Windows 7 Home Premium.

  16. I think that canyon.mid and passport.mid were NOT BAD AT ALL and definitely better than onestop.mid

  17. pc says:

    It hadn't really occurred to me before that one of the main reasons to ship media samples isn't so that users with a fresh install can try out some of the nifty features, but to help product support. Yet it's so obvious once you point it out.

  18. Rob says:

    I agree: canyon.mid has a special place in my heart.

    The whole conversation prompted me to go search for it, and I found possibly the coolest website ever.

    http://canyonmid.com/

    I can't believe someone actually took the time to build that.

  19. Brian says:

    I just listened to onestop.mid for the first time and didn't find it terrible all.  It's certainly not great.  Boring might be a better description.

  20. Deepz0ne says:

    Why were the wav files removed then?

  21. mikeb says:

    > Sounds very 80's ish

    All MIDI files do.  Though most of onestop.mid sounds like a sound track for a Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo buddy-cop movie:

    You won't get pulled over for speeding again by Officers Cannon and Wallace…

    Because they only make

    >

        One Stop

  22. @everyone: canyon.mid predates Windows 95.  I remember it in Windows 3.1.  Someone older than me could perhaps state when it was first included.  Did it originate with Windows 3.1, or Windows 3.0 with the multimedia add-on?  I'd tend to guess the add-on, though I don't have it to check.  Its inclusion with Win95 is therefore probably just a relic from Windows 3.1 that they left in.

    I'm not sure if/when it was included with Windows NT 3.x/4.0; I don't have copies handy at the moment to check.

  23. Renan says:

    canyon.mid and passport.mid sound pretty good (in my opinion) when played on a decent MIDI synth. Check for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch and http://www.youtube.com/watch .

  24. alegr1 says:

    What do you think of those psychodelic pictures included with Windows 7?

  25. Brian K says:

    I never noticed that file, but of course had to have it playing in the background while I read this post. No wonder there are 14 millions files on my disk. Remember when you used to know what every single file was?

  26. sounds ok to me says:

    Not sure what people were expecting for a piece that aren't actually used for anything anywhere besides product support.  It's not like it gets played on every boot or anything.  Also hardly fair to judge when the composer is forced to work with the soundfonts and capabilities that come with MS's software MIDI synthesizer, hardly state of the art.

  27. Entegy says:

    The Windows XP setup song was really good. Too bad you had to have working sound drivers during setup to hear it. The first time I heard it, I was setting up XP in VirtualBox virtual machine. It was kind of a surprise to hear it since I was wondering where the music was coming from!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch

  28. Destroyer says:

    Right on Entegy – C:WindowsSystem32oobeimagestitle.wma ! Some people seem to suggest it was composed by Brian Eno – but from what I can gather that is just purely (well motivated) speculation.

    What would be ultra cool is if Raymond could find a higher quality of it rather than the 64kBps bitrate version (iirc) that comes on Windows XP, the bass gets a bit funny on it when the volume is turned up. There must be a higher quality version in the archives.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Before passing judgement on onestop.mid, you should hear it with a better soundfont: http://www.youtube.com/watch

  30. John says:

    I too came to comment that title.wma from the Windows XP Out of Box Experience blew my mind, so much that I had to grab it from my XP install and plop it on my Zune.

    I seem to recall there being a write up on a Microsoft blog that talked about the history behind this, alas I can no longer find the link.

  31. Mike Dunn says:

    My memory's a bit hazy, but I'm pretty sure the music in the XP OOBE movie actually predates XP by a few years.  I bought a mouse back when IE was at version 3 or 4, and there was an IE install disc in the box.  The disc's autorun thing played that music.

  32. JM says:

    @Maurits: are *you* going to explain the penguins every time someone plays it? No? Didn't think so.

  33. xpclient says:

    The loss of the UI in Vista to set default WDM MIDI driver was tragic. Vista also broke compatibility with MANY software MIDI synths and "legacy" PCI hardware FM synthesis MIDI cards. Also, we lost DirectMusic's hardware acceleration besides DirectSound's. :( MIDI support was last visited by MS in Windows 98, no wonder so many pros use OS X whose Core Audio has excellent MIDI support. I have even seen lots of clueless MVPs and fanboys who think MIDI is 90s technology so by that logic, professionals should discard it!! The availability of BASSMIDI eased a lot of pain.

  34. xpclient says:

    Forgot to add: The OOBE XP music is sooooo good. It gives you the feeling that "I'm XP and I have arrived to eliminate all your troubles." :D

  35. Brian says:

    xpclient: "I have even seen lots of clueless MVPs and fanboys who think MIDI is 90s technology so by that logic, professionals should discard it!!"

    Actually, MIDI is 1970's technology, but for musicians it is more important today than ever before.

  36. Matt says:

    Secure the rights to Esperanza.mid for future versions of Windows. It's the best midi song by a mile!

  37. Jeremy says:

    I'm just going to point out that flourish.mid is actually a pretty cool song.

  38. I had completely forgotten about this email thread.  A technical writer was curious and had asked on a big DL about the purpose and history of onestop.mid.  I replied, "I was unaware of it until now.  I think its presence exposes a significant security risk, in that if an attacker can cause that ghastly file to be played it will cause mental pain and anguish to those within earshot of the speakers.  (It did for me – I tried to brave through it but had to stop after a minute and a half, and am now rinsing it out of my head with cycles of Mozart and Minor Threat.)"

    Re Brian Eno:  he did write the welcome music for Windows 95 (http://www.electricpig.co.uk/…/brian-eno-spills-windows-start-up-sound-secrets).  In my very brief search just now I found nothing solid to back any claim that he composed anything for Windows XP.

  39. Sven says:

    Brian: "Actually, MIDI is 1970's technology, but for musicians it is more important today than ever before."

    MIDI may be from the 70's, but the General MIDI specification is from 1991. Which is why I'm a bit baffled at the videos linked to here of canyon.mid (General MIDI files) etc. being played on a Roland MT-32, which is a pre-GM device. It can be configured to a sort of pseudo-GM mode, but it's not a particularly great GM synth. Something like a Sound Canvas is much better suited for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch

    I own both a Roland MT-32 and Roland Sound Canvas SC-88, mainly for purposes of retro-gaming such as http://www.youtube.com/watch or http://www.youtube.com/watch. :)

  40. Engywuck says:

    so why are there several MIDI files but no .avi (especially clock.avi) needed for product support? I'd have thought that a file so often cited in examples would have remained. OK, we have "Natur.wmv" but that's not the same as clock.avi was…

  41. @everyone says:

    Now I have an idea of the average age group of the readership…

  42. Yuri says:

    I wonder what Aaron Margosis has been smoking, by midi standards that track is perfectly fine.

  43. db2 says:

    JohnCage4'33".mid

  44. cheong00 says:

    And I miss ballade.mid from SoundBlaster 16, which is my first sound card.

  45. Programmerman says:

    Onestop.mid made it into Windows RT, even though a MIDI player did not. But it's there if a MIDI app ever makes it into the store!

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