DreamScenes RTM dated July 19

Windows Ultimate Extras DreamScenesFirst off, I want to congratulate Barry and the Windows Ultimate team for finally stepping in the right direction after months of stalling and silence. The release of the final version of DreamScenes plus the content pack yesterday might not rejuvenate the Ultimate Extras excitement to its former shine, but progress is progress. I think the saying “better late than never” couldn’t be more true on this occasion.

Whilst yesterday was as good as any, could Microsoft have released DreamScenes sooner? A lot sooner? Say, Thursday July 19, 2007?

I hate to play devil’s advocate all the time but sometimes questions, even stupid ones like this, needs to be asked. Especially when tiny pieces of evidence suggests otherwise.

Whilst 6.0.6000.16504 (vista_rtm(wmbla).070719-1641) might not make a lot of sense, it’s surprising meaningful. One of the neat things about Microsoft software is that every DLL and executable file released is tagged with an abundance of metadata describing what it is. One of those details is a build string. A build string identifies what major and minor revision is the compiled code, who is the owner of the code and when it was compiled.

DreamScene DLL properties

In this case it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the version of DreamScenes.dll that was distributed yesterday was compiled on the 19th of July, 2007. That’s 69 days ago. It means this version of DreamScenes hasn’t been modified since.

DreamScenes digital signature

The digital security certificated signed by Microsoft confirms the file was signed the day after.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, neither do I think this is a conspiracy by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe this highlights the unnaturally long development cycle of Ultimate Extras and just how slow things are progressing. Taking into account for testing and documentation, 69 days between code compile and release is something of a concern if we are to expect more as promised again by the mighty Barry.

Update: Since no changelog was provided to what actually changed between the beta and final release, the consensus at Channel9 shows the performance still sucks and multi-GPU support is even removed. How’s that for 6 months’ work.

47 insightful thoughts

  1. They don’t WANT to give any substantial. Plus! packs were replaced by Ultimate Extras, now they’re saying even Powertoys are replaced by the same. The XP PowerToys are replaced by language packs and a game?? Ridiculous. Where is TweakUI one year after Vista’s release?

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  3. This is getting to be ridiculous. I think I’ll just stick to my bussiness edition of Vista, no point upgrading now. Glad you made my decision easy MS!

  4. Or, may be they were hoping that the other Ultimate Extras would be ready by now and may be they wanted to do a big bang release (looking at the kind of extras they have on tap, this doesn’t deserve the ‘big bang’ theory!).

    I think Microsoft is stalling for time as far as extras are concerned. And they are taking everyone for a ride with their ‘we-are-so-honest, we-are-so-open’ blog posts about the extras.

    They released DreamScene to hide from the fact that they don’t have anything lined up. And they are BS’ing again on the extras blog about changing the Ultimate Extras text and how they are working of loads of great extras.

    When will they ever learn?

  5. Long, what app are you using to view file properties (on those first two screens)? Thanks.

    About performance – I think it`s impossible make HD playback process much better with CPU decoding. Hey! Users should learn physics, because of, seems like they really don`t understand, that it`s IMPOSSIBLE make playback without CPU usage whith no hardware decoding.

  6. I will quote my friend on the possible reasoning why it took so long to be released if it was ready from July 19th:

    “I’m guessing they were waiting on the language packs and release them together as stated in their blog post a while ago. The language packs slipped, but they didn’t see the need for a seperate release until speculation started about them dropping the extras.”

  7. It’s hard to nail Microsoft over CPU usage due to the new “DLL hell” that is codecs.

    For those with CPU usage concerns, download RadLight Filter Manager and ensure the merit on Windows Vista’s packaged MPEG2 decoder is higher than all the others. You may be surprised to find your favorite application XYZ decided to override the in-box decoder with its own slow garbage.

  8. What I do not understand is why you believe this is a new release?.
    I don’t really know.
    To me this is just an old compiled version different than the beta that was release just because.
    Because a lot of press was talking about Microsoft could not provide what they promised.

    Is so simple, MS release this version because of you the Internet guys like Neowin and other that were always watching Redmon and they’re Extras broken promises.

    Just my thoughts.

  9. I like the dreamscene, but when I try to play one of the videos it crashes
    I am using ATI Rad X1650 Pro and all I get is a bunch of small colored square all over my screen, has anyone come across that before?

  10. Well, I’ve commented on this saga before, so it was initally great to see the RTM. Clearly a despirate last minute panick “we have to put out something” reaction. And no, i didnt appreciate the ‘joke’ (ha ha so funny) about there being no summer in Seattle. Lame when you have frustrated customers the other end. That aside, today I installed the RTM version. And guess what; I just get a black screen when a video is selected. Black background.

    I’m SO glad all that testing, all 69 days of it, was so well done. The beta actaully worked (apart from the CPU issues…), what a farse.

    I’m still waiting for those “exclusive publications”. And i’m not installing SP1 and agreeing to the new EULA (where they will change their commitement) until the information of what I “will get” is fulfilled.

    I’m known among my friends as a miCrosoft fan. Indeed, I’m a Registered Partner, go to events, always defending Microsoft as company and telling people about the new products. This is, honestly, the first time I’ve been totally furious. I still don’t understand why none of the “Big” guys in the Press have not picked up on this. I had assumed that at WORST, we would get Plus! pack level of add-ons, but quite honestly, we’ve had less than that. Abysmal. And for anyone who says they are mere “extras” and shouldnt be considered as an added value proposition – for me, the proposed description WAS part of my purchase decision.

  11. William,

    Agreed. Everyday, as Microsoft digs themselves deeper and deeper, I wonder if someone will take this through the legal system… This is just wrong.

  12. Is this any real surprise?

    Save the .NET/Visual studio team, very little out of Redmond lately is quality. This is just another example of something that should have been a simple deliverable that turned into utter embarassment. I watched the Vista launch event, it was good humor, but during that the event the only “Wow” was DreamScene (which isnt saying much). It was promised to have little to now CPU impact, they even showed this. Where is it?

    Actually, that launch event should have been the first clue. WTF was that family on stage for, what possible clue could they have for propper OS design. “Ohh, we wanted a Burn button on the photo gallery”. Great input.. Shocking that IT NEEDED TO BE ASKED. MS should LEAD in OS design, not follow.

    Vista is a UI nightmare. I do not share Long’s opinion of the MSX team, perhaps they are more than what was delivered, but Vista is pretty hard on the eyes at times. It amazes me to this day how many clicks it takes to join a wireless network, Apple has this down to one. (Also doesnt have some half backed UI that shows me every possible connection under the sun, Apple has a wireless drop down menu that just freaking works). Then there is the trainwreck of the new Network and Sharing Center, I want the drugs the UI team was using when the designed that – everyone is simply confused by it. Plus – now more clicks to get to network adapters! Yay!

    MS needs one rock solid UI team, everything needs to pass through this team. Office 2007 look ok/good – but looks alien on XP and even on Vista. Apple isnt a model for consistancy either, but it is better, and it doesnt take multiyear dev cycle to crank out quality.

  13. oh my……more Ultimate Shame for Microsoft….makes me think about what they are really doing?

    and i agree as well….sounds like a class action law suit will be cooked up anytime now….

    and i’ll bet money we will not see another “Extra” until after SP1….we’ll have to see about that though huh?


  14. You’re totaly right Long Zheng, I tested DreamSence first beta and the bugs are still the same and nothing changed, I think this so-called “Ultimate Extra Team” just gave us something to shutup and stop talking about this Ultimate Con!!!

    Wow, you busted them! good work dude.

  15. Rafael: glad I’m not alone! I’ve never been one running to the Courts, but really, on this occasion it wouldn’t seem unmerited (although I am sure the current UALA gives Microsoft scope to do as much or as little as they want, and that text in explorer is purely ‘guidance’ or something vague!).

    The Ultimate Extas site doesnt allow comments – how very convienient. Funny though because, give credit where Microsoft deserves it; virtually every other blog Microsoft has DOES allow comments. Strangely convinient.

    RyanLM: At the end of the day Ultimate Extras was clearly concocted by Marketing, in order to sell more higher costing systems. And many of things that poroabably were planned to be included in Home Premium were pushed up to that as an “extra” (one of the games for example). I also think that Language packs, in this day and age where people travel for work / exchange programmes at school/college etc, should be included as a basic feature. Same goes for Office.

    Back back to the core of the arguement: They provided deception – a false sales arguement, at the time of purchase for many people. I am certain that sales people in stores will have been pushing less tech-savvy consumers to get Ultimate citing Extras. The Microsoft website has a page on them.
    Then there’s the category like us – reading tech blogs etc, who are in many cases, enthusiasts, resellers, OEMs, people who are most likely to buy Xbox’s, Zunes and generally good evangalists for Microsoft. Punching us like this is NOT a clever move.


  16. What really frustrates me is that the Ultimate Extras team, when they existed, was kick ass! Alex Kipman, Erik (long last name), and crew were always communicating with its testers, pushing out new dogfood builds and most importantly squashing bugs!

    The original team is not to blame for this! Blame the higher ups that decided the team should be no more!

  17. You’re right, partially. The file, DreamScenes.dll, may not be responsible for everything in dreamscene (don’t know exactly, just guessing), therefore some other files might have actully changed. The other thing – WMBLA is a team within MS releasing all versions of Windows: XP, Server, Vista. Take a look what they have in a calendar: Vista SP1, Server 2008, XP SP3 including minor milestones like betas and RC’s. Do you _really_ think they will drop these big projects and release vista’s toy DreamScene?? Gotta be kidding me…

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  19. Hmm, wow, I have lots to say, but I’m not sure how much I actually will. I think I’ll keep it down to departments.

    I think that the two big products out of MS this year (Vista and Office) are overall decent products. Vista is unique because it’s not revolutionary by any means. It is, however, confusing. Had we got what was promised in Longhorn, I probably would have upgraded my laptop to it right away, when it came out, even if I were to be stuck on the more basic UI. Now there’s really no reason to upgrade. Anything I want to do I can do just fine on XP. Sure there’s some things I could do on Vista that’d be nice, but XP fulfills my needs.

    Office 2007, on the other hand, is quite revolutionary, in my opinion. It’s the first program(s) to offer that “Ribbon” UI. When I saw it, I immediately was impressed at how much better it appeared. I tested the public beta ever since Beta 2 was released, and received my free copy at a Launch Event in early February. At the time, we had OpenOffice.org 2.0 installed on both computers. It was time to get updated. Even if I hadn’t got it free, I would have purchased a copy, if only the Home and Student version.

    It’s interesting to see the digital multimedia platform (Expression and Silverlight). Stuff appears to be working there. There’s at least progress being made, with Expression Blend 2 previews, announcements about Silverlight on Linux, etc.

    Finally, Windows Live is a neat, open platform. Open is multi-meaning. Not only is it open as in open for developers to build off of (dev.live.com), but also open in forms of communication. You’d be hard pressed to find a Live team without a team blog. It’s amazing. Most of those welcome comments as well. I loved the style it was back in it’s early beta stages (late 2005 – about April 2006), fun and laid back. While lately, they’ve become a lot more professional, they hooked me at that time and so I stuck around.

    Microsoft has tons of potential (or should we say passion, as a pun on their old slogan), but they seem to be only half-delivering. I know many people here would love to see that change.

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  21. Mike,

    As I blogged here (http://www.anti-tgtsoft.com/?p=19), the other files are even older! I’m a bit confused why you would claim someone is partially wrong yet not have the facts to back it up.

    Here are the other files:

    Dreamscene.dll (July 19, 2007)
    Dreamscene.dll.mui, all languages (July 19, 2007)
    themecpl.dll (March 14, 2007)
    themecpl.dll.mui, all languages (March 15, 2007)
    langcleanupsysprepaction.dll (March 14, 2007)
    lpksetup.exe (March 14, 2007)
    lpremove.exe (March 14, 2007)
    muilanguagecleanup.dll (March 14, 2007)
    mcbuilder.exe (March 14, 2007)

  22. think of this, if its taking along time then its got to be very good. theres no point of releasing something thats not to the superour of the public. Microsoft are just making tension, but at the same time causing upset but keeping the tension.

  23. Mike: Microsoft should deliver what they promise. If this involves hiring more people, so be it. If they don’t have the manpower to deliver pretty Extras alongside their most important projectproducts, they shouldn’t have *offered* it in the first place.

  24. Oh when will you all cry out and start suing microshaft?!?!?!

    I just want a class action suit so I can join in…i want my money back on my ultimate BS

  25. The build revision does not mean what you think it means. You can poke around in files and find numbers, but that doesn’t mean you understand what you’re looking at. In this case, you’ve got it all wrong.

  26. @whoever: would love to know too! Something did change between teh beta and the real thing (as the beta worked, and this one doesnt!), but details would be good.

  27. I really think that build is more stable than the old one…

    and reduce the CPU usage by stop the video playback while full screen app is running… It work much better than first seen

  28. Whether or not this an old version or a new version, the fact remains that it still does not work properly. The CPU usage is still far too high, explorer crashes terminating dreamscene far too often as well as dreamscene ‘pausing’ randomly even though it is still ‘running’ requiring you to restart it. Throw in the fact that the ‘bundled and extra scenes’ are few and far between with most being simply boring and what you are left with is a joke. An unfunny joke at the consumers expense.

    I was apparently under the mis-apprehension that MS was a large and wealthy company capable of hiring staff to fulfill customer expectations. It appears that they are actually a small and cash strapped company. Maybe I should send them a dollar?

  29. End User: “capable of hiring staff to fulfill customer expectations”. Of course, these arent just customer expectations, this is a case of not delivering what they said!

    IF they had not said “You will get” and then three catagories (including these so-far elusive publications, and that they didnt say “little to no hit” on the CPU for Dreamscene, I wouldnt be expecting much else. THEY set the bar high. And don’t get me started on the “Wow” stuff..! I love Vista (yes, for me it’s worked on the whole well) – but the Extras is just a discusting state of affairs. Sometimes – as you alude to – you’d think you were asking a cash-strapped start-up!

    A very unfunny joke, indeed. (If they ever try and joke about the weather again, i’ll fly over and punch them – this is not the time for chummy talk when you have irate customers on the recieving end)

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