Is Windows Vista Ultimate Extras a sham?

Windows Ultimate ExtrasBesides BitLocker encryption, a few pro-user tools (RDP, CompletePC backups, shadow copy etc..) and the Family Discount program, the only other reason to even consider purchasing Windows Vista Ultimate was for the Ultimate Extras. Users were suppose to feel good about themselves for having access to exclusive and premium content only available to the most expensive version of Windows ever manufactured, but at the moment, they might look a little stupid.

Hold’Em & DreamScenesSo far, some users have paid an addition of approximately US$150 for a black box, some Vista features mentioned above, a poker card game, various language packs and videos projected on the desktop. Like there aren’t enough free hold’em poker card games out there already with much better graphics and AI. Even VLC media player could have even done what takes a technical preview to do, years ago – playing videos on the desktop. Now it takes another add-on (Deskscapes) on top of an add-on to do what should have been done in the first place – dynamic content on the desktop. Microsoft even has a patent for it.

Digital PublicationsBut what’s coming up next? The next Ultimate Extras is most likely to be Digital Publications, in other words, free e-books with tips and tricks to using Windows Vista. I fail to see how that is cool or even helpful, since TweakVista has that covered pretty well, and is accessible to all users of Windows Vista.

GroupShot? It might come, it might not come. Granted it is cool and useful, but even if Microsoft does decide to commercialise this research project, I fail to see why they would release it to such a small audience on Ultimate Extras, when they could be making millions by putting it in to the next version of their digital imaging suite.

Microsoft Plus! Pack for Windows XPThe problem with Ultimate Extras? It’s not a problem with the program itself, because charging for additional content has always been successful with Windows Plus! packs, and this is no different. The problem lies in the lack of transparency at Microsoft. When you buy Plus! packs, you know exactly what you get for how much you get it at. But Ultimate Extras is different. You pay an upfront cost of around $150 to maybe get some cool stuff released sometime in the future which may or may not interest you. That’s a lot of ambiguity for that amount of money.

Microsoft, you need to stop classifying Ultimate Extras with national security secrecy and start giving out a road-map for what users should expect. Ultimate Extras won’t give you some sort of competitive edge over OS X because you’re so hush-hush over what you’re developing. The only people you hurt are loyal users who you’ve promised “cutting-edge programs and innovative services” and so far delivered two products which there has been free alternatives for years.

Geometry Wars on the Windows VistaUpdate: Brandon LeBlanc suggests I should give an example of what Ultimate Extras I would like to see. I don’t have many, if I did, I’d be in the software business, but here’s one on the top of my head. Microsoft should give away a free copy of the PC version of Geometry Wars they’re currently developing. Free for Ultimate users, and they can still charge for whatever they wanted to through normal retail channels.

61 insightful thoughts

  1. No Groupshot — Back on Jan 8th, Alex Colburn from the Groupshot Team told me that “GroupShot was demonstrated at CES as an example of a type of experience we hope to innovate on in the coming years. GroupShot as is will never ship as an Ultimate Extra.”

  2. Weell, I don’t know about you but I paid for Ultimate so I could have Media Centre and access my PC through remote access in the same box, I don’t think anyone’s being convinced by Ultimate Extras alone.

  3. Well I agree that the extras are crap atm, but Vista ultimate gives you much more than home premium or business – it gives you both. That’s the real reason it’s not cheap as chips.

  4. Vista Ultimate also have the shadow copy feature I miss so much on my Vista Premium …

    And I also belive that Ms should offer more to enthusiasts that chose to buy a software 150$ more than most other people.

    But I was thinking more about some Discount for other software (office, games ?) or even hardware (good way to promote the Zune or the 360 ?). Why not music from URGE or Zune Music store, movies from Xbox Live (anywhere ?) …

    So many missed opportunities ….

  5. Hey,

    I think everyone have to tell what he is thinking about Ultimate Extras. I wanted the Ultimate version just to have animated wallpaper.. but .. I’m a little disappointed. 2 programs to install to have something “better” than a simple wallpaper, and without Deskscapes .. it’s like a useless program !

    What I would like to have in extras will be some GREAT personalization abilities :
    – new 3D effects
    – more new sounds
    – more wallpapers
    – more graphical designs (different “start orb” icons, different taskbar skins, ..)

    I think that the best idea that Microsoft should do for Ultimate Extras is to make the OS evoluting towards the Windows Vienna (RC1) step by step…
    For example : new feature for Windows Vienna finished –> put it in ultimate extras ! What do you think about Ultimate Extras being beta testing great programs? You will pay money but you will get MORE than everyone .. even more than what are doing apple … and the same as doing for linux.

    They should really think about what users are missing (and wishing) the most and they should find great idea to blow away everyone .. what about making tab in explorer? what about IE integrated in the wallpaper? what about having more multiple account abilities (ability of having 4 users logged, and dividing screen in 4 regions to see the 4 account at the same time).

    I hope that Microsoft will see that the Ultimate Extras have to be NEW features and have to come soon .. if they want Ultimate version to be really “ultimate”.

  6. What we would like to see?

    1) Free, high resolution, nice and subtle .dream-files.

    2) More themes to addition the Aero-themes. And I mean GOOD themes which has taken some time to finish.

    3) Exclusive Gadgets for the Sidebar. Give us the much wanted WMP11-gadget Sean Alexander showed us! It’s the most wanted gadget and maybe at one time the most disputed item in the Winodws Vista testing cycle. It seems like nobody at Microsoft care of what they started with that mind-bobling beauty!

    4) Something like PhotoBooth maybe? The idea is; do funny and good written software to us.

    The things should be exclusive, and let me be one of the first to say that Hold ‘Em was one of the biggest let down after Ultimate Extras was launched. It had potential to be so much better, but it just wasn’t made exclusive.

    Give us something we really want, and others really want, then maybe you could get some Home Premium buyers considering going the whole way like we did.

  7. Ultimate Extras are so far a big sham.
    Two and a half extras, none of which I use.
    I was really looking forward to Dreamscene, but the tech preview performs terribly on my machine.
    I hope in the future they will release extras more frequently. New themes and wallpapers would be great, as long as they were good, i.e. good enough to be considered “official”.

  8. I thought we might of had a theme officially made by MS Designed around LongHorn After the amount of people including myself commenting on how they love the LH Interface *Sighs* oh well it might come….

  9. The thing we’ve got to remember i sthat it’s early days.
    It’s still less than a month since Vista was amde publicly available so you can’t necessarily expect dozens of Extras in such a short time scale but I agree that there should be more transparency around this.

  10. its not a scam or a farse its just not well executed yet…

    They need to start releasing themes and things that would normally hit plus packs, themes, icons, perhaps as was suggested geowars and other things like that, perhaps bring a few of the smaller research projects to market via ultimate extras (perhaps with resale for premium users as well)

    How about moving the expressions applications to the ultimate extra group as well….

    Yes groupshot is one of those research projects im talking about and they said it wasnt coming to ultimate extras but a variation of it might or an app showcasing its theory and functionality.

    I’d also like to see dreamscene evolve further before release with ability to tap into live webcams, oh and btw for those with performance issues with dreamscene its probably your video card since dreamscene utilizes wpf / gpu processing (perhaps lowend card or perhaps its just year 1 drivers for “legacy non dx10” hardware… and people need to stop whining about dx10 and new cards, even intels new integrated graphics are dx10.

    As to the writer of this article, dont forget that dreamscene is WPF enhanced to utilize the GPU, background playing on vlc isnt.

    One thing i want to see as a ultimate extra is live icons, i mean it would be wicked to have live previews of videos via Live icons.

  11. And colin has the 110% correct reasoning, the issue is vista has been in development so long and so many of us have been testers people seem to forget vista has only been out 1 month to the public

  12. Oh forgot to complain about this one though… MICROSOFT YOU REALLY NEED TO GET STARDOCK TO RELEASE DESKSCAPES VIA THE ULTIMATE EXTRA DOWNLOADER… having to go to a seperate site is stupid…

    i really hope when dreamscene goes final release that it will include dreamscape, if its free and improves the extras then frigging have it in the extras downloader why should i have to go to a damn site!

  13. group shot really should be an ultimate extra and not just a tech preview.
    i actually thought it was going to be release, maybe i just missed when he said it was as i was too busy trying to roll my tongue back into my mouth.

    i’d like to see an ultimate extra where you can change the textures on the surface of the aero glass. i actually envisioned this as a tool that uses your webcam to get realtime video to be “reflected” on your windows, slightly dimmed of course. sounds useless, but then again so is the facebook thingee on the mac.

  14. “i really hope when dreamscene goes final release that it will include dreamscape, if its free and improves the extras then frigging have it in the extras downloader why should i have to go to a damn site!”

    DeskScapes is an enhancement to Windows DreamScene, and is not going to be included with the DreamScene download. It’s not really a big deal to go to a website to download this program.

  15. well I’m already in talks with a Lawyer in regards to this.. we are filing court papers in the next 2 months if we the users dont get our $150.00+ moneys worth of ultimate extras..

  16. I added the + in there because Canadians are paying an extra $29.00

    399.00 USD = 470.142 CAD
    United States Dollars Canada Dollars
    1 USD = 1.17830 CAD 1 CAD = 0.848680 USD

    but yet we are paying 499.00 so thats about $29.00 more then the Currency Rate..

  17. i have been using the RTM version for several months now i didn;t pay a penny and reguardless of wut anyone has to say it works great but the ultimat extreas really our not worth 150 extra dollars no matter what they sceam up actually i think vista is nothing more than a prettyer version of XP there is barely any hardware support still and companies have had upwards of a year to make preporations for vista anyone who pays for any version of vista is just stupid or rich and still stupid….. and as far as dreamscean u can use countless apps to do the same things winamp has a visulation with beat ditection bs player will let u play movies with sound on ur desktop so why pay 150 extra dollars to see a moving desktop ? the texes holdem game is a hugh disapointment i have a blackberry with a poker game on it that has better graphics and is writen alot better another sham from the O so GRAT microsoft oh and BITlocker do most ppl even no what that is ? i am pretty sure 75% of ppl will never use it at all becuase they have no clue wit it does ….. all in all my opinion and jsut about everyone eles i have talekd to about the matter thinks that vista is one of the biggest waist of money and XP is still the best choice

  18. Well think yourselves lucky! Here in the UK it’s £210 for Home Premium and a ridiculously expensive £350 for Ultimate. I still haven’t worked out how they can charge that given the good exchange rate between the Pound and the Dollar!

  19. You all need to buy the OEM versions and quit complaining that the cost is so high. Vista Ultimate OEM = $239 CAD. Vista Ultimate Extas in my opinion are more of a bonus feature of Vista Ultimate than the reason for purchasing that version. If you so dislike the extras then don’t buy ultimate and go for home premium, which sells for $139 CAD in my city, not much more than XP Home which sells for $109 CAD. Vista Ultimate’s additional cost is not solely due to Ultimate Extra’s, so your lawsuit case is going to go nowhere fast Nananan. And for those of you who claim XP is better than Vista, you should really go read up on the security improvements of Vista over XP. Sure it’s no Mac or Linux box when it comes to security, but Microsoft has a little more than 3% market share as compared to the competition, thus attracting more attention. Macs and Linux machines would be right in the same boat as Microsoft if they were more of a mainstream OS. Anyway, that’s my beef…

  20. if you’ve ever been to the ultimate extra’s website, you’ll notice the team is quite small compared to the rest of ms. like 16 people.

  21. Another vista ultimate exclusive is that out of all the versions its the onlyone that supports 8gb of ram. That and remote desktop is the reason i went the extra mile to get ultimate. Also on you can buy ultimate disk and coa lable, to stick on the side of the case, for 200 dollers. Its the System builder edition like what dell and hp uses.

  22. Looks like a fundamentally badly planned out business model to me. Well, for Microsoft, no – they’ve made their money on the original sale so they’re happy.

    Seriously though, relating back to an entry on the Windows Ultimate website it states that there is no conspiracy and that they are actively persuing new ideas. What these are we have no idea but apparently they will come with time. DreamScene – another useless idea for paying Ultimate customers that could easily be integrated into Home Premium.

    Also what’s going on with removing the details from the Windows Ultimate Extras page on Windows Vista SP1? What do you expect customers to think when you remove all the marketing from the platform.

    Microsoft, pull your finger out, otherwise Ultimate Extras is essentially a failing product which will only be any use if your plan is to migrate Ultimate users over to OS X.


  23. I think it is funny how you guys argue over the price. I have had Vista for almost a year now (the final release), and never paid for it, so vista ultimate was no more cost to me than starter or home basic.

  24. I’d like to see a propper windows live messenger client with no adverts and an areo interface, not ugly mess it is today.

  25. Well Obviously it’s a sham because it’s been about a year and a half and no extras yet!!! Just the ones that came out at release and then Dream scene… WTF Microsoft?

  26. I bought Vista Ultimate because of the promises of extras. Now very disappointed with Microsoft

  27. This is the funniest thing I have seen all day, people paying to get screwed by Microsoft.
    You got to hand it to them, they are good at selling a turd, then charging you an additional fee to polish it, then when you finally come to realise it was a turd all along, you buy another newer, smellier one off them, as this new turd solves the old turds problems of it being a turd all along.

  28. I find it funny that people not alone buy Vista but choose to buy all this extra crap for it. Even if you don’t buy it you are still using a slow, restrictive, and downright inferior operating system all together, so don’t think your any smarter just because you didn’t pay for it. Any windows os has always been poorly designed and this trend doesn’t change. Do yourself a favor and switch to a real os (*nix) instead of continuing to use a this legalized virus.

  29. Easy short list:
    1) X-Windows manager baked in. Given that Vista Ultimate even has a POSIX terminal in it, why no X-Windows?
    2) Why not a spruce-up to the old calculator? Maybe give it RPN capabilities or simple graphing abilities, similar [but perhaps more powerful] to the XP Powertoy calc.
    3) Ultimate has data backup software .. maybe data recovery software?
    4) Ultimate-Only sidebar gadgets. They did it with RED, right?
    5) Power options. Ultimate is geared towards computer nerds, so why not release a few updates that expose all sorts of super-tweaks and power options in certain dialogues, or from a central dialogue? Even something like a version of XP’s TweakUI powertoy.

    Not so hard!

  30. Not that bothered about the Ultimate Extra’s – I decided to get OEM ultimate as that was what I was using with Beta 2 and the RC’s.

    Something along the lines of TweakUI would be nice and also Ultimate only sidebar gadgets.

  31. In addition to whats been mentioned there is no fax in other versions than Ultimate. If you start to count all the features up there is no reason to have anything but Ultimate.

    Ultimate is the real Vista, the other versions are crippled, that’s just how I see it.

  32. Well, it has been a long time. Where are any extras of any substance? The sound schemes are lame and can easily enough be created with marginal work. The new DreamScene is also lame and we can get dreams from the internet for free.

    Where are any extras which are really worth anything? Seems like this has been theft by deception on Microsoft’s behalf.

  33. Am I the only one who is still amazed that Microsoft pulled off this scam with almost complete impunity? What have they provided? Where are the extras? What a crock, and everyone seems to just accept it with no complaints!!!

  34. Windows Vista Ultimate is the worst software investment I have made. Wish I had stayed with XP. The “Ultimate Extras” is nothing but a poorly-funded, badly executed marketing sham.

  35. ultimate is worth it if you want media center. i personally dont care for media center, but its definetly nice.

    i always buy the business versions of windows for their networking options. with vista you even get PC restore which is just great.

    by the time you buy something like acronis and some other remote desktop software, Vista Business would have paid for itelf.

    Ultimate is only $20 (in the system builders OEM version) on top of that business.

  36. @PL: You really are a Microsoft puppet, aren’t you? What ridiculous justification for Microsoft’s theft of your Ultimate money.

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  38. Where the F^%$ are my Microsoft Ultimate Vista Extras??? Extras are crap and big sham.

    ‘Windows 7’ for FREE for anyone that bought Microsoft Ultimate Vista !!!

  39. @Marecki I totally agree. I have windows vista ultimate, it was a gift (from someone who now uses windows 7)
    And honestly… I can’t find any difference between this and home premium, obviously I’m sure there are some minor variations, but to the average user… it’s just as over-buffed as vista.
    I actually attempted to revert back to XP, failing, apparently microsoft have some sort of failsafe build into hardware in the vista era, I want my gig of ram this ‘turd’ takes off me!

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