One of the more bizarre pieces of software that Microsoft made was
the "Custom Soundtracks" add-in for PowerPoint. It let you have
dynamically generated soundtracks based on "styles", "personalities",
and "bands", and played on a MIDI synth. The music it generates somehow
manages to be both simultaneously bland yet surreal; one would wonder
what kind of office had a synthesizer in the projector room that could
do something like "Mysterious Cave" justice, let alone the content to
match it with. Since this is a dynamic music system, one could make an iMUSE-like presentation
a series of slides with their own soundtrack and motif settings.
You can view a demonstration of the add-in on YouTube.
However, Microsoft had quickly forgotten the existence of this add-in. The installer only works for PowerPoint 97, and they had released a small patch to make the add-in work on PowerPoint 2000, had you done an upgrade from 97. If you want to experience it for yourself, but don't have a suitably old machine to dump it onto, it turns out that it actually works on modern PowerPoint, if you do some legwork first.
HKLM\Software\WoW6432Node\Microsoft\Office\8.0\Common\InstallRooton 64-bit Windows) and set its default value to the install directory of Office. (In my case,
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office)
ppmusau.dllfile to the
Officesubdirectory in the folder where Office was installed.
ppmusic.ppafile before you do this.) Extract this file's (sourced from Microsoft) compatible-with-newer-PowerPoint version of the add-in to the same subdirectory.
msimrt.dllfiles from the Office 97 CD's
\OS\System\folder to your
SysWOW64on 64-bit Windows.).
If you open up the PPMUSIC.PPA file in the VBA editor
(Tools->References; make sure to rename your current file's VBA
project, since the updated version uses the default name instead of a
special one) and poke it in the Object Browser, you can see many of the
low-level details of how it works. The PPMUSAU.DLL file abstracts much
of it and presents a high-level C ABI way of controlling the
soundtrack. Conveniently, the prototypes for the DLL are provided in
Visual Basic. Manipulating this outside of the add-in environment could
be the topic of more research later.
It seems possible to make your own patches for this, with the
DirectMusic SDK, which can be found on a suitably old DirectX SDK. This
could be the topic of more research later.
What was Microsoft smoking, anyways?