White spelled out what would happen this month and beyond with Ultimate and its language packs. Windows Update will show and/or install SP1 only on Ultimate-powered PCs that have a supported language pack, while the standalone installer will return an error if it's run on a PC with one of the not-yet-available packs.
"This means if you are running a Language Pack that is not one of the 5 initial Language Packs you will not be able to install Windows Vista SP1 until the other Language Packs are released, said White.
Vista Ultimate's language packs were part of "Ultimate Extras," an aggressively marketed bonus feature that was to regularly provide add-ons to the top-priced version. Customers, however, became bitter when Microsoft actually released only a few such extras, and complained last year that the company had reneged on its promises.
Coincidentally, on Tuesday Microsoft launched the beta version of a new site, called UltimatePC, dedicated to Vista Ultimate owners. Much of the site shills third-party products at discount, while other sections showcase tips on using the operating system. The product offers have been tagged as "Windows Ultimate Exclusives," a title sure to sow some confusion.
Microsoft admitted as much. "It's important to note that Windows Ultimate Exclusives are not replacing Windows Ultimate Extras," a spokeswoman for the company said.
She went on to say that Microsoft would ship additional more Ultimate Extras during 2008, including at least one game, Movie Maker and DVD Maker enhancements, and new screen savers and sound schemes. "We are committed to Windows Ultimate Extras but the bar for shipping any Windows Vista feature is high and we look forward to delivering them when they are ready." Microsoft has promised, but not delivered, any new Extras since October 2007.
That, along with White's notice of the SP1 delay for Ultimate users, got a reaction from some commenters. " Using Vista is a kick in the pants compared to XP," said someone identified as Karsten Hiemstra in a comment attached to White's blog post. "Using Vista Ultimate just adds insult to injury. Not only have you defrauded your users who paid more for non-existent or extremely lame 'extras,' but now many users who may have installed the language packs have to wait even longer for a Service Pack that will (we hope) reduce the pain of using this problem-riddled OS.
"You and your team should be ashamed of yourselves."