Among the litany of complaints against Windows Vista, Microsoft’s failures to deliver on its promises to produce and release “Extras” for the Ultimate edition have been held up and railed against repeatedly since that version shipped in January 2007. The idea behind the Extras sounded good: from time to time, Microsoft would release special premium software only to owners of Windows Vista Ultimate via Windows Update.
Alas, the idea promised better than Microsoft’s execution was able to deliver. Aside from a single security add-on for BitLocker and EFS enhancements, a few games (Hold Em! poker and Tinker), and some sound and visual schemes, nothing noteworthy ever emerged in the Extras area on Windows Update. As I search through my update history, in fact, I see exactly just over half a dozen Extras entries therein: one for enhancements to BitLocker and EFS, three related to DreamScene, one each for Hold ‘Em and Tinker, plus a related sound scheme for that last game.
At first, Microsoft made much of the Extras as an important value add for Vista Ultimate. Later on, they began to backpedal on this subject significantly. And although an Ultimate edition is planned for Windows 7, no Extras will be included in that go-round–see this coverage on the subject at Ars Technica–personally I don’t think that’s where the value-add for the Ultimate edition comes from anyway. The real value add comes from Media Center and image backup. To me the latter is almost worth the price differential all by itself, because it makes purchase of third-party image backup or ghosting utilities unnecessary, and because it’s so nicely integrated with the Windows Repair Environment available through the Vista installation media.
I think Microsoft has made a wise decision to forgo the Extras with Windows 7. They had problems delivering on their hyped-up promises for Vista, and have decided to focus more on core OS functions in the next release. Frankly, I’d like to see a return to earlier Windows install configurations, where the installer shows you what you can install along with the OS, and you get to choose what you do and don’t want to go along with it. Hopefully, that’s the direction that a leaner, meaner Windows 7 will take Microsoft’s desktop operating system.