Windows 95 Easter Egg Song (Clouds.mid)

In early 1995, I was working at Microsoft as an intern software engineer on the Windows 95 team, and was approached to write the music for the hidden Windows 95 Easter Egg.

This ‘Easter Egg’ was tricky to find (see the instructions below), but once found it opened up a window with all the names of who worked on Windows 95, with my music as the theme.

The only instructions I was given was that the music should invoke images of ‘clouds’ and feel ‘floating’ and ‘peaceful’ – this is how Windows 95 was going to be marketed. Well, and that it had to play well on all sound cards at the time. For 99.9% of computers, this meant through the Adlib synthesizer emulation of the Creative Labs Sound Blaster card (or equivalent clone). In other words – no sampled instruments, no effects – just simple FM synthesis. General MIDI at its finest.

So with that said, I really couldn’t do too much in terms of interesting instrumentation or sounds; and yes…it’s pretty funny to listen to the tune now. I’ve rendered it out using a GM sound module (which is better) but still doesn’t come close to the realism you’d expect from most computer music today.

Feel free to post comments or send me any questions. Here’s the tune:
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/63867349″ iframe=”true” /]

You can also download the MP3 file here: Clouds.mp3. The instructions to activate the Easter Egg are below (for all of you still running Windows 95)!

As an aside, I never did get credit for writing the music (despite the promise), but I’d like to thank Raymond Chen for his entry into his blog at:
http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/09/08/54811.aspx

Also, there are plenty of Youtube videos of the Easter Egg, such as these two:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PWRy2-powE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFclEc4sCUo&feature=related

Update October 2011: If you’re interested in more of my retro compositions, check out the retro compositions page on my website. You can also visit my SoundCloud page for other tunes.

These are the original instructions to actually see the Easter Egg in Windows 95. Note this doesn’t work in Windows 98 or above, nor under some versions of the Active Desktop under Windows 95.

Create a new folder on the Desktop and name it EXACTLY like this:

and now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for

Then rename it to:

we proudly present for your viewing pleasure

Rename this folder again to:

The Microsoft Windows 95 Product Team!

Double-click the new folder and enjoy the show!

20 thoughts on “Windows 95 Easter Egg Song (Clouds.mid)

  1. Greg

    Wow, it’s great to finally know the story behind clouds.mid! I just happened to be thinking about today (for some unknown reason) and your blog popped up on a Google search. Back in the day, I used to play it on occasion…found it relaxing and somewhat Yanni-esque (hope that doesn’t offend you!). Of course, the more I had to drink in a particular evening, the greater the chance that it would be played…being in my 20’s at the time, it got quite the workout!

    Great job on the music and thanks for the behind-the-scenes info! Also, thanks for the mp3 version…now on my iPod.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  2. Zendog

    I’d like to add my gratitude and appreciation to the comments as well. I started my technical career in 1990 with Windows 3.x and have had the dubious pleasure of watching Microsoft Windows become what it is today. One of my fondest and most clearly-memorable moments is learning about the Easter Egg in what was then my brand-new install of Windows 95, hot off the presses. I was already expecting something quirky and cool, but when your music faded in and the theme began playing, I was absolutely beside myself. At that moment, nothing could have been cooler, and the music that you created for that moment made an impression that has lasted almost 20 years.

    Thank you sincerely for that wonderful composition, and a great memory.

    ZD

  3. buster

    This is so cool Brian! What an honor it must be to have made an impact like this on people with your music. It’s almost even cooler since it’s so obscure, but I’d have rathered that it had made you rich and famous! You deserve it.

  4. Hao

    This song is the only reason why I sometimes switches back to Windows 95 on Virtual PC 2007 just to listen to it.

  5. Peace

    Thank you very much for writing the song, the song was a big part of my childhood! I am now using clouds as my alarm and ring tone.

  6. creamyhorror

    Thanks for creating this part of my childhood. Funny how one small thing leads to another leads to another.

  7. Joe

    This song was also a part of my childhood, heh. 🙂 Thank you so much for this beautiful song, it was the first midi I ever listened to, and spawned a long love for MIDI music ever since.

  8. Dean

    Although this seems weird im 11 years old! Im kind of a computer wizzard if that how you like it, I love listening to this song! Its so peaceful, trumpets are a bit weird 🙂

  9. WindowsVista567

    I remember finding this song online and reading about the Windows 95 easter egg. When I finally got to look at a Windows 95 PC, I tried the easter egg, and it worked. I once made a modified version of this song to play on a Roland MT-32 sound module (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_MT-32), and it plays perfecctly. I would say that you definitely achieved your goal of making the MIDI file compatible with many diffferent synthesizers.
    Note: I did not upload the YouTube video of Clouds.mid playing on the Roland MT-32. That version seems to use a special patch bank designed to imitate the GM standard, while my version uses only the standard MT-32 instruments and is not online.

  10. Naresh

    Whatever people have written here about clouds.mid is so true. I just can’t forget clouds.mid ever. I want Win95 back just to get the kick out of activating the easter egg and then listening to clouds.mid. A lot of people have moved on from Microsoft since Win95 if you search for the names on the website.

  11. Mich

    Agree with all of the above especially zendog. In my consulting days, my team enjoyed this as an Easter egg pick-me-up at stressful times. Your music never failed to lighten the mood. I even mentioned it recently to my spouse and meant to go searching for it, but lo and behold it found me first, via Twitter. Extremely cool. Serious thanks! ps – Love the tiny smiley too.

  12. alberto

    Hi, do you know where the animation file is located? (not the music Clouds.mid, but the video)

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  15. Tom D.

    Whenever I hear this it literally throws me back to my elementary school days. Thanks for being a part of my childhood.

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