Microsoft Delivers Next Vista Ultimate 'Extra'

Amidst a growing chorus of unhappy customers who feel they didn't get their money's worth with Windows Vista Ultimate, Microsoft has released a key "extra" that had been promised for months.

Windows DreamScene was unveiled yesterday, according to an announcement on the Windows Ultimate Web site. DreamScene is video wallpaper; so instead of a static image as a background, a full-motion video takes its place.

DreamScene is one of the Vista "Ultimate Extras" that buyers were promised months ago. The "Extras" were an inducement to pay a premium price for Vista Ultimate, as opposed to lower priced options. The other promised extra was a series of language packs. Those are not coming, wrote Barry Goffe, Director of Windows Vista Ultimate, on the Web site.

Goffe said the delay on the language packs was due to installation failures.

"We know this is disappointing, and again we apologize, but we are working hard to ensure that all of the remaining language packs will be ready for release by the end of October," he explained.

The Vista Ultimate team has had to do a lot of apologizing for delays in Ultimate Extras. A blog posting from early July apologized for the lack of progress on delivering extras. In the approximately eight months since Vista Ultimate shipped, five extras have been made available. They include a poker game, an upgrade to BitLocker hard drive encryption and a security tool called Online Key Backup.

Yesterday's release of DreamScene has quelled some of the anger users have felt, but bitterness remains. Josh Phillips of the independent Windows Connected site characterized the mood.

"The shipping of DreamScene has bought Microsoft some precious time, but for an audience that already feels burned it is only a precious little amount of time," Phillips wrote. "I would encourage that team to think outside the box and deliver some additional content or license some content from its partner Stardock for the October release cycle as very few people care about the Language packs."

One of the most vocal critics of the Ultimate Extras delays is blogger Long Zheng of He kept up the drumbeat with a posting on the last day of summer, which was the promised deadline for the next Extras. With the missed deadline, he wrote, "it proves this team is incapable delivering anything and should never be trusted again.

"As implied throughout most marketing materials including the official website and even Window Vista's own control panel," Zheng continued, "Ultimate Extras were suppose to be frequent and free premium products and services delivered to the customers who 'wanted it all'. And the truth is, customers are getting near to nothing."

Despite the anger, Microsoft is forging ahead, and Goffe said that more Extras will be forthcoming. Perhaps tellingly, however, he did not give a deadline for the new Extras.

"While I can understand how community sites and bloggers may have read the new definition and assumed that Microsoft is not shipping any more Extras, in reality the opposite is true," Goffe wrote. "In addition to the remaining Language Packs, we plan to ship a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers."

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at [email protected].