Critics: Vista Ultimate add-ons promised not delivered

Since Vista was released to consumers, no new finished Extra have been offered to Ultimate users

Microsoft has failed to deliver on its promise of downloadable extras for the highest-priced version of Windows Vista, critics claim.

Dubbed "Extras" and exclusive to Vista Ultimate, the downloads were touted before, at and after the launch as one of a handful of features that separated the US$399 operating system from the US$239 Home Premium. On Ultimate's marketing site, Microsoft currently says of Extras: "These cutting-edge programs, innovative services, and unique publications provide a richer computing experience for Windows Vista Ultimate users."

Trouble is, according to critics like Scott Dunn, an editor with the popular "Windows Secrets" newsletter, Microsoft hasn't followed through. Since January, when Vista was released to consumers, no new finished Extra have been offered to Ultimate users.

"Extras is not a minor feature of Ultimate," Dunn argued. "It's one of the things that sets it apart from Home Premium, and one of the few unique things that has been promised Ultimate users."

Microsoft issued three Extras when Vista debuted, including a poker game; an add-on to BitLocker, Vista's whole-disk encryption tool; and language packs for the operating system's Multilingual User Interface. The next month, Microsoft posted DreamScene, a video screensaver, in beta form; DreamScene has not shifted out of beta since then.

"Some of these so-called extras should have been included with Ultimate," Dunn said, citing the BitLocker add-on. "Without that, it's very difficult to even use BitLocker."

Dunn has taken up a cause first promoted by several Windows-enthusiast bloggers, including Josh Phillips, who writes WindowsConnected, and Long Zheng, author of iStartedSomething.

Readers of the Philips and Zheng blogs were almost unanimous in their disappointment. Several mentioned the phrase "class-action" in their comments. "I'm just waiting for the Ultimate class-action lawsuit for failure to deliver," said "Xepol" on Philips' post.

Although the development team in charge of Extras has a blog, the last entry was posted more than three months ago. Microsoft did not respond to several requests for comment.

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Gregg Keizer

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