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I remember, on virtually every installation of Windows XP, I had to go hunting for the config that showed the volume icon. This was quite frustrating to me, and although the issue is quite old, I would like to know why they did this! It doesn't seem very user friendly to me.

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From Microsoft's own support page:

The Volume icon is not displayed automatically when you first install Windows XP.

This was a break in previous versions of Windows, and I don't believe they have repeated it in newer versions (although they removed the whole start menu in Windows 8!) So:

Why was this turned off by default on Windows XP installations?

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    Too bad Raymond Chen isn't covering this in his blog, "The Old New Thing" :) – Ray Apr 23 '14 at 17:13
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The control icon wasn't as useful back in the Windows XP day since volume control was often done through the speakers hooked up to your desktop. It was far less common to have audio devices connected that didn't have volume control than today.

These days we often have a variety of devices we connect to our computers that do not have independent volume controls, thus requiring more prominent visibility of volume controls on the OS.

We also have to remember that it has been more than 10 years since XP was first released and desktops ruled. Today our laptops, keyboards and USB devices have controls to raise and lower the OS volume. But we also have multiple devices that we tend to connect.

Volume control is still there on Windows 8, in the tray. Otherwise, you can hit Win and type Volume and hit enter to launch the volume control.

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    I don't buy it. I had speakers with no volume control and a laptop with Windows 98 on it. – Aaron Hall Apr 24 '14 at 3:48
  • Back in 1998 laptops were only a small fraction of sales. In 2000 only 15% of all PC shipments were laptops. If we look at those stats and the other bits of data I provided, you were certainly more of an outlier. – Francis Pelland Apr 24 '14 at 4:16
  • Though I've got to say, you must have been quite patient using a laptop with Win98. The first color laptops were just coming out (1997) and they were incredibly heavy / rugged beasts. – Francis Pelland Apr 24 '14 at 4:18

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