Vista Ultimate Extras still AWOL (and Alien furnishings)

It's Monday's IT Blogwatch: in which Microsoft's Windows Ultimate Extras are still absent without leave. Not to mention a coffee table held up by the Alien (from, uh, Alien)...

Gregg Keizer reports:

Critics who blasted Microsoft three months ago for failing to deliver Windows Vista add-ons have again called the company on the carpet, this time for missing its self-imposed deadline to provide promised extras.

In late June, bloggers and users were already panning Vista Ultimate Extras as a bust. Extras, available only to customers running the top-end Vista edition, was one of the features cited by Microsoft to distinguish the $399 operating system from its $239 cousin, Home Premium. Microsoft's online marketing, for instance, touted Extras as "cutting-edge programs, innovative services, and unique publications" that would be regularly offered to Ultimate users.

But by June, Microsoft had not released any new Extras since it issued a beta of DreamScene, a video screensaver, in February. That infuriated some users; several days later, Microsoft tried to defuse the situation by promising to wrap up DreamScene and 20 unfinished language packs ... "By the end of the summer." [more]

Long Zheng started something:

Even if the Windows Ultimate team has fled to the International Date Line, summer is officially over ... in the northern hemisphere ... it proves this team is incapable of delivering anything and should never be trusted again.

Two months ago, after weeks of pressuring for answers, Microsoft’s Windows Ultimate group director Barry Goffe finally spoke out about the ‘missing’ Windows Vista Ultimate Extras. As implied throughout most marketing materials including the official website and even Window Vista’s own control panel, 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 ... Barry writes ... "We intend to ship Windows DreamScene and the remaining 20 Language Packs by the end of the summer."

...

I seriously have to doubt the competency of whatever group of people is working on this if they can’t even ship 20 language packs in 8 months (after Vista’s January release) let alone the ill-fated DreamScenes which has been suffering an architectural problem preventing it from working on RTL-language systems.

...

On a related note, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 even tries to hide the Ultimate Extras shame by removing much of the information in the Control Panel applet ... Ironically a whole lot of nothing is exactly what you’re getting. [more]

Steven Hodson likes Long:

Like Long I am further convinced that the Ultimate’s team is either grossly incapable of delivering anything on a promised timetable or Microsoft doesn’t give a s*** about the people who bought into the hype lock stock and barrel ... I have even reached a point where I even question the need for the average computer user to *cough* upgrade *cough* from XP. After all with Service Pack 2 installed XP is a rock solid platform with plenty of non Microsoft support available for it. Even most of the features that are suppose to be the groundwork on which Vista is suppose to deliver the goods has been made available for XP - using the .NET Framework for example.

Of course the big drawing card for Vista was the user interface but even that with the installation of the upcoming release of WindowBlinds 6 the Aero look is easily added to XP. It would be interesting I think to see a list of other 3rd party programs or utilities out there that are Vista like equals for XP. [more]

David Hunter hunts for his calendar:

One can quibble about whether a Language Pack constitutes an extra, but why bother since it is now “end of the summer” ... You may recall that the Extras are supposed to be “free programs, services, and related content” that you only get if you kick in for the pricey Ultimate Edition of Vista. The problem is that they seem to be mostly vaporware

...

It is truly hard to believe that Microsoft can organize a vast variety of Halo 3 tschotkes, but can’t manage to deliver a goodie or two as promised to the purchasers of Vista Ultimate. Heck, why not give them a Halo 3 screensaver? [more]

Jason Bogovich talks about trust:

Paying Microsoft for services "to be delivered" is probably never a good idea, it's probably what made Vista a product that took so long to deliver, and is probably why Ultimate Extras are taking so long if they even ever materialize ... Not only have we received basically nothing that was a surprise as an added bonus, which could be implied by the price we paid for extra, or two copies of Ultimate in my case, but we haven't even received nearly any of the features promised on time.

...

When it comes to technology, especially gadgets, and software, many technologists simply must have the best. Microsoft marketing team knows this, and so they used some actuaries to show that the profit margin normally found in Windows and even Office would be dramatically increased by simply creating a small team of engineers that would create a few doodads, that could be really hyped up, but deliver absolutely next to zero value, and they could put in as much value into these copies of windows as they wanted, and deliver it whenever they wanted.

...

What Microsoft marketing may not know is with each copy of Ultimate they sold a little bit of their trust to us. Not all of their trust, but maybe enough trust that the true hard working innocent engineers at Microsoft whom are burning the midnight oil and had nothing to do with this get tired of their masterpieces being treated as ho-hum, and leave the company to deliver similar products to rave reviews. [more]

But Microsoft's Brandon Paddock disagrees:

Ultimate has a great deal of value over Home Premium. “Ultimate Extras” are just that… extras. While I am disappointed with how they’ve been handled, I never considered them to be the reason anyone would buy Ultimate.

Ultimate is designed to combine the features of Home Premium with those of Business. Simple as that. If you want a barebones basic system, you get Home Basic. If you want better Mobile PC / Tablet support, better networking capabilities, more included apps, etc - you go for Home Premium or Business. If you want Media Center, DVD Maker / HD Movie Maker, etc - you go for Home Premium. If you want Remote Desktop, domain support, etc - go for Business. If you want Remote Desktop and Media Center in the same SKU, or you want Media Center on a domain, or you really want Bitlocker and it wasn’t put their by your corporate IT department - then you go for Ultimate.

Ultimate is basically the same as buying XP Media Center Edition (ie. now called Home Premium) AND buying XP Pro. The only difference is that now you can get their seperate/distinct features together in the same, higher priced SKU. [more]

"Yes, but," says W3bbo:

There was more to Ultimate than Extras (a glorified version of Plus! for Windows), but the price difference between Enterprise/Home Premium and Ultimate was waaay too high to justify adding Enterprise tools to a Consumer OS.

...

Point is, never trust future promises from any company, or any product feature tied in with anything external. Take Windows 98/IE4's "Active Channels" for example. [more]

Other succinct comment from the usually Microsoft-loving Channel 9'ers:

Bas: ...pathetic...

DigitalDud: ...incompetence...

Ray6: ...promise was broken...

LaBomba: ...what a joke.

Buffer overflow:

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And finally... If H.R. Giger decorated your house

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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