Microsoft: Sorry About Ultimate ‘Extras’ Delay

It’s not often that Microsoft  apologizes to customers. In a rare case this week, however, the company is doing just that.

The apology is to customers impatiently awaiting some extra programs for Windows Vista Ultimate. The good news is that Microsoft officials say they plan to ship those eagerly-awaited Windows Ultimate Extras by the end of the summer. The bad news is — the same — they’ll ship by the end of summer.

At the top of the “missing” list for many Vista Ultimate customers is Microsoft DreamScene, a component that lets the user specify a video file to be played as the user’s Windows display background.

Also on tap are 20 more language packs for the Windows multi-language user interface. The company already shipped 16 language packs previously, according to a posting on the Windows Vista Ultimate Web site.

However, several outspoken users and bloggers have complained that the extras, which are meant only for people who bought the Ultimate edition of Vista, have been slow in coming and, worse, that Microsoft has not been forthcoming with information as to when they should expect to reap the benefits of their investments.

“Our goal is to provide the highest-quality, most secure and reliable offerings, and as a result we are continuing our work on these offerings. We apologize for taking so long to provide a status update to customers,” Barry Goffe, director of Windows Vista Ultimate, said in the post.

The company announced Windows Ultimate Extras in January when it launched Vista. Since then, besides the initial language packs, Microsoft also shipped Windows Texas Hold’Em, Secure Online Key Backup, and the Windows BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool, according to the posting.

“We will not ship the last two Extras showcased in January (Windows DreamScene and the remaining 20 Language Packs) until they meet the high quality bar required by our enthusiastic customers—and we believe that we can achieve that bar by the end of this summer,” Goffe continued.

DreamScene has been available since February as preview code. However, some users have complained online that running an animated background using the preview product takes significant CPU time, causing them to discontinue its use. Additionally, besides Windows Media Video (.wmv) files, it supports videos in MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 (Moving Picture Experts Group) formats but not in MPEG-4 format.

Besides Vista Ultimate, in order to run DreamScene, the user’s computer must also have a graphics adapter capable of running Vista’s Aero graphical interface.

Further extras are under development, Goffe said, but the company has not yet made details or schedules public.

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