Out of box experience

The Out of box experience (OOBE), also sometimes referred as the First Time Setup is the setup wizard related to Windows, macOS and other OS experiences which launches after you install/reset them. The OOBE allows the user of the computer to setup their account, choose their keyboard layouts, and other important information the computer requires.

History[edit | edit source]

Microsoft Windows[edit | edit source]

In Windows NT-based systems, the files for the "Microsoft Out of box experience" are located in the oobe directory in <System drive>\Windows\System32, with the main file being msoobe.exe.

Windows 98 and Me[edit | edit source]

The Out of box experience was introduced in Windows 98. However, it does not start at first boot since the OOBE was intended to be customized by OEMs which can set the start of the OOBE at first boot.

In Windows Me, the Microsoft Agent character Merlin has been introduced. However, it was intended to be a placeholder for OEMs to put in their MS Agent character (like HP did) or modify the text which Merlin is supposed to speech. Merlin also made the appearance in Office 2000, 2001, XP, 2003, v.X and 2004 as well as Search Companion in Windows XP.

Windows 2000[edit | edit source]

Windows 2000 introduced the "Network Identification Wizard", where the user account is being created.

Windows XP (Whistler) and Server 2003[edit | edit source]

The Out of box experience was ported to NT-based systems beginning with Windows XP build 2223. In this build, it has Windows Me branding due to being copied from a Windows Me Beta 3 build without any modification. It also does not close after the final page (it just loop back to start), its process (msoobe.exe) must be killed to get out. The OOBE starts after an upgrade starting with build 2267. Merlin was ported with build 2250, albeit being absent in the next builds until build 2410. Also with this build, Windows Product Activation has been implemented into msoobe.exe and can be invoked with the /a switch. However, it was non-functional until build 2428. It's design got overhauled with a Luna-esque design in Windows XP build 2416. Also beginning with this build, it starts after a clean install. The final appearance was seen in build 2469 for the first time. In the same build, Merlin got replaced with the Microsoft Agent character "Question Mark". The famous sound played during OOBE, TITLE.WMA, also referred as the "Windows Welcome Music" was implemented with build 2481 and was replaced with No Hay Problema in Windows Server 2003 build 3615.

In Windows Server 2003, the OOBE is non-functional and is only used for Product Activation. Attempts to launch OOBE with msoobe.exe /f lead to a black screen until the process has been killed.

Windows Vista (Longhorn) and Windows 7[edit | edit source]

Due to being forked from a Windows Server 2003 pre-release, the OOBE in Milestone 3 plays No Hay Problema in the background and hasn't been much changed since Windows XP.

With the introduction of WIM-based Setup in Windows Longhorn build 4001 the OOBE recieved a major refresh. It no longer features background music as well as MS Agent characters and was branded as Windows Setup.

Beginning with Milestone 5, the OOBE no longer starts at first boot. This has been changed with the development reset, where it returned to its Windows XP design, but the "Question Mark" character is absent.

After the Omega-13 branch, the OOBE was again absent until build 5259, where it gained a huge redesign. Also, it launched directly after setup and before the last restart. This has been changed with RC1, where it launched after the restart. The final page contains an orb with the Windows logo. Clicking on it or the Start button located in the bottom right of the window let the user to the login screen. The orb was removed with Windows 7, where it directly let the user to the login screen. Windows 7 also introduced the new Homegroup page in OOBE.

Windows 8 and 8.1[edit | edit source]

Early Windows 8 builds had two versions of OOBE: a nearly unchanged design of Windows 7 and a new one based on the Metro interface behind Redpill. In Milestone 3, the wallpaper of the old OOBE has been corrupted, but this would not have fixed by Microsoft.

The new Metro OOBE firstly was a full screen version of the old OOBE. This has been changed rapidly, as later builds introduced a color background as well as customization options. The background was at the beginning a gradient blue with flower patterns in the corners of the screen. These have been removed later, and in the Developer Preview the color has become solid and the default is purple, later green.

The Developer Preview added the option to create a Windows Live ID (now known as Microsoft Account). The Consumer Preview added few more customization options into OOBE and switched back to blue as default color. With the Release Preview, the Express Settings have been introduced to speed up OOBE. The RTM changed the default color back to purple.

Windows 8.1 keeps purple as the default background color, but has a different color picker. Other than that, not much has been changed.

Windows 10, 10X and 11[edit | edit source]

The OOBE hasn't gained much new features, the background color changed to blue and can no longer be customized. This design is still included in LTSC releases of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 or later.

With Windows 10 Creators Update, OOBE gained huge changes: Express settings have been removed in response to criticism of the operating system's data collection; the user must set up privacy settings manually,[1] and Cortana has made its debut in OOBE.

Windows 10X introduced a new design for OOBE, which is based on the Fluent Design System. After the cancelation of Windows 10X, it merged into Windows 11 with some modifications.

Microsoft stated that in the Home SKU of Windows 11, the OOBE requires to connect to the Internet to create a Microsoft account.

Classic Mac OS and Mac OS X[edit | edit source]

Mac OS 8 and 9[edit | edit source]

Before getting into OOBE, the system will play some Mac OS-relating clips until the user begins to interact with the system.

Mac OS X Server 1.x (Rhapsody)[edit | edit source]

Apple Rhapsody Developer Release 2 introduced the "Rhapsody Setup Assistant", which is an OOBE-like experience where the OS can be configured. When the Setup Assistant reached its end, it will restart the system. After the OS's renaming to Mac OS X Server 1.0 (only for PowerPC), it is called only "Setup Assistant". It was ported to Mac OS X Developer Preview 2.

Mac OS X[edit | edit source]

Setup Assistant gained an Aqua redesign in Mac OS X Developer Preview 3 and a massive overhaul in the Mac OS X Public Beta.

The Setup Assistant got replaced by a full-screen OOBE. Mac OS X Cheetah, Puma and Jaguar played a short video clip before entering the OOBE, which shows water dropping to promote their new Aqua interface. The latter introduced the ability to sign in for a .Mac subscription.

A new clip is used in Mac OS X Panther, and the OOBE now goes completely full-screen.

A remake of the clip is used in Mac OS X Tiger. It bears a slightly lighter background as well as some more OOBE-related changes.

Mac OS X Leopard uses a completely new intro clip and changes the appearance of the OOBE, which is now windowed. Also, this version introduced the ability to sign in for a MobileMe subscription, since it succeeded the former .Mac service. Not much has been changed in Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Mac OS X Lion removed the intro clip.

Linux[edit | edit source]

There are also some Linux distributions (like Red Hat Linux or Fedora) which come with an OOBE. OOBE is usually in distros which use GNOME desktop environment by default.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Windows[edit | edit source]

Classic Mac OS and Mac OS X[edit | edit source]

Linux[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Windows 10 Creators Update to rejig privacy settings in a move unlikely to please anyone. Ars Technica. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2021.