Microsoft’s sample MIDI files

Ever since Windows 3.1, Microsoft has included MIDI files in the C:\WINDOWS\MEDIA folder so that if a user ever needed to troubleshoot a MIDI application, Microsoft support would have files that were reliably there.

Along with original compositions, there were also MIDI files of well-known classical works, like Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. I won’t be featuring these in this post, just the original compositions.

MIDI files are sometimes criticized for sounding terrible and dated. The reason for that is because the critic didn’t use a good SoundFont. MIDI files don’t actually store any sounds; it can be thought of like sheet music: the notes to play are contained in the file, and what it sounds like when played is up to the SoundFont used. In this post, I’ve rendered the MIDI files using one of two SoundFonts: Microsoft’s 2gmgsmt.sf2 and Finale’s synthgms.sf2. The SoundFont used to render the MIDI file is indicated after the filename.

Let’s go look in the MEDIA folder, shall we?



New: Listen to the tracks back-to-back!


  1. PASSPORT.MID (synthgms)
    PASSPORT.MID was first included in Windows 3.1 and was included until (but not including) Windows XP. This was one of two files (the other being CANYON.MID) included to promote Passport Designs.
    It kind of sounds like the background music for a DOS game, like Commander Keen.
    I’ve tried searching for the composer, but without success (apparently, George Stone knows nothing about it).

  1. onestop.mid (2gmgsmt)
    There seems to be some confusion over whether the three current MIDI files (flourish.mid, onestop.mid, town.mid) were first included in Win98 or WinXP. Raymond Chen says that they’re from WinXP, but I remember seeing it in WinME, so I’m going to say they’re from Win98.
    One Stop is the longest of the MIDI files in the media and features the most instruments. It has been described as being “less bad” than the previously included MIDI files, and I think I’ll agree with that.
    One Stop was composed by David Yackley.
  2. town.mid (2gmgsmt)
    Town was composed by Nathan Grigg. It was included in Windows since Windows 98.
  3. CANYON.MID (synthgms)
    The full title of this composition is “Trip Through the Grand Canyon”. It was composed by George Stone for Passport Designs.
    It was included in Windows since Windows 3.1 (maybe earlier) up to but not including Windows XP.
  4. flourish.mid (2gmgsmt)
    Flourish, composed by Nathan Grigg. It was included in Windows since Windows 98.
    Flourish stemmed from the music of the Internet Explorer 4 Channels.
  5. CLOUDS.MID (synthgms)
    Clouds, composed by Brian Orr for the Windows 95 credits Easter egg (instructions given in the linked post). This one is my personal favourite. I wish I had come up with it.
    (The MIDI file is meant to be looped, which is why the ending sounds abrupt.)

Bonus

  1. CSSAMP1.MID (2gmgsmt)
    If you install Canon-related drivers, this file will be included in the MEDIA folder.
    (The MIDI file is meant to be looped, which is why the ending sounds abrupt.)

Yes, some people like these tunes enough that they have actually learned how to play them.


The Smash Brothers – CANYON.MID LIVE at MAGFest 7, Washington DC by MAGFest [YouTube]


Clouds by Arnold Kim [YouTube]

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9 comments
    • Thanks for sharing. I’ll take a listen when I get a chance.

    • I’ve finally gotten around to listening to them (don’t ask me why it took so long). I have to say, excellent quality, and it does give you a different perspective of the pieces.
      Thanks again for sharing!

  1. Stormz said:

    I thought METBLAST.MID from Windows 3.0 was awesome!

    • I’ll have to look that one up. It only sounds vaguely familiar to me.

  2. Timon said:

    These M$ Windows music are most annoying things. They should be called music-trools. Maybe nice is the bonus music and passport, I think best from these.

  3. Kelsey Waughon said:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been casually searching for these for years. Growing up, our first family computer was win95 which we soon upgraded to win98. I remember being 7 years old and playing with the computer, I found the MIDI tracks. I would listen to them over and over and once even wrote a story for my second grade class with these tracks as the soundtrack. Not too long ago I stumbled upon a print-out of that story and it made me long to hear these MIDIs one more time. After several extensive Google searches yielding nothing, I forgot about for a couple years until this morning when it randomly popped back into mind and I decided to give it one more go…and then your post popped up, and it was exactly what I had been searching for. My seven year old self thanks you!!

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