Volume 4, Number 36 -- September 26, 2007

Vista Ultimate Con Job?

Published: September 26, 2007

by Alex Woodie

People who ponied up an extra $160 to buy Windows Ultimate got their first "Extra" this week, a video screensaver called DreamScene that only they can use. The only problem is, it took Microsoft nearly nine months to deliver the first finalized add-on for Ultimate, leaving many users wondering whether Microsoft had gotten the best of them.

When Microsoft shipped Windows Vista to consumers in early 2007, they were confronted with an array of different versions. Vista Home Basic edition cost $199, Vista Home Premium (which most OEMs opted to preload on their new PCs) cost $239, Windows Vista Business cost $299, and Vista Ultimate cost $399. Windows Vista Enterprise, meanwhile, is only available to businesses buying copies of Windows en masse.

There are several differences between Ultimate and the Home and Business versions. For example, Ultimate brings support for BitLocker encryption and the capability to run as a guest in a virtualized environment. However, these are not the types of things that consumers will typically do with their operating systems. Instead, Microsoft lured users to Ultimate with the promise of more goodies, called Extras, that it would deliver down the road.

Microsoft delivered three Extras with the launch of Vista, including the BitLocker encryption, a poker game, and several language packs. It also delivered DreamScene as a beta, where it stayed for months.

Users that have been waiting for more Ultimate Extras from Microsoft over the ensuing nine months since the launch of Windows Vista have been disappointed. Only this week did the software giant deliver DreamScene as a full Extra--barely fulfilling the promise to deliver it by the end of summer (the Fall Equinox occurred early Sunday morning, so we'll cut Microsoft a little slack).

But Microsoft will be more than a month late with the 19 additional language packs that it previously said it would deliver with DreamScene. October will arrive before these packs are ready, Barry Goffe, director of Windows Vista Ultimate, informed readers of his Windows Ultimate blog.

Goffe says he understands the frustration (remorse?) some Ultimate users are feeling about the pace of Extras development. But he promises that the Ultimate development team is hard at work building "a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers."

So, what exactly will these Extras be? We won't find out until the language packs are shipped, Goffe says.

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