Windows Ultimate Extras

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Windows Ultimate Extras are optional features offered by Microsoft to users of the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista and are accessible via Windows Update. Ultimate Extras replaced the market role of Microsoft Plus!, a product sold for prior consumer releases of Microsoft Windows. [1] According to Microsoft's Barry Goffe, the company's goal with Ultimate Extras was to delight customers who purchased the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista, the most expensive retail edition of the operating system. [2]

Microsoft U.S.-headquartered technology company

Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Its best known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge Web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touchscreen personal computers. As of 2016, it is the world's largest software maker by revenue, and one of the world's most valuable companies. The word "Microsoft" is a portmanteau of "microcomputer" and "software". Microsoft is ranked No. 30 in the 2018 Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Windows Vista—a major release of the Microsoft Windows operating system—was available in six different product editions: Starter; Home Basic; Home Premium; Business; Enterprise; and Ultimate. On September 5, 2006, Microsoft announced the USD pricing for editions available through retail channels; the operating system was later made available to retail on January 30, 2007. Microsoft also made Windows Vista available for purchase and download from Windows Marketplace; it is the first version of Windows to be distributed through a digital distribution platform. Editions sold at retail were available in both Full and Upgrade versions and later included Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Windows Update Software update distribution service for Microsoft Windows

Windows Update is a Microsoft service for the Windows 9x and Windows NT families of operating system, which automates downloading and installing Microsoft Windows software updates over the Internet. The service delivers software updates for Windows, as well as the various Microsoft antivirus products, including Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials. Since its inception, Microsoft has introduced two extensions of the service: Microsoft Update and Windows Update for Business. The former expands the core service to include other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Expression Studio. The latter is available to business editions of Windows 10 and permits postponing updates or receiving updates only after they have undergone rigorous testing.


Windows Ultimate Extras have been discontinued as of Windows 7 [3] and the operating system also removes all installed extras during an upgrade from Windows Vista Ultimate. [4] [5]

Windows 7 personal computer operating system by Microsoft released in 2009

Windows 7 is a personal computer operating system that was produced by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. It was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009 and became generally available on October 22, 2009, less than three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista. Windows 7's server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2, was released at the same time.


Microsoft released a total of nine Ultimate Extras for users of Windows Vista Ultimate.

BitLocker and EFS enhancements

The BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool utility and the Secure Online Key Backup utility were among the first Ultimate Extras to be made available, and were released to coincide with the general retail availability of Windows Vista. [6] [7] [8] BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool prepares the hard drive to be encrypted with BitLocker, [9] whereas Secure Online Key Backup enabled users to create an off-site backup of their BitLocker recovery password and Encrypting File System recovery certificates at Digital Locker, as part of the Windows Marketplace digital distribution platform. [10] Secure Online Key Backup was rendered inoperable after Digital Locker shut down on August 2009. [11] [12]

BitLocker disk encryption software for Microsoft Windows

BitLocker is a full volume encryption feature included with Microsoft Windows versions starting with Windows Vista. It is designed to protect data by providing encryption for entire volumes. By default, it uses the AES encryption algorithm in cipher block chaining (CBC) or XTS mode with a 128-bit or 256-bit key. CBC is not used over the whole disk; it is applied to each individual sector.

In computing, off-site data protection, or vaulting, is the strategy of sending critical data out of the main location as part of a disaster recovery plan. Data is usually transported off-site using removable storage media such as magnetic tape or optical storage. Data can also be sent electronically via a remote backup service, which is known as electronic vaulting or e-vaulting. Sending backups off-site ensures systems and servers can be reloaded with the latest data in the event of a disaster, accidental error, or system crash. Sending backups off-site also ensures that there is a copy of pertinent data that isn’t stored on-site.

In information technology, a backup, or data backup, or the process of backing up, refers to the copying into an archive file of computer data that is already in secondary storage—so that it may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. The verb form is "back up", whereas the noun and adjective form is "backup".

Multilingual User Interface language packs

Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows Vista is language-independent; the language architecture separates the language resources for the user interface from the binary code of the operating system. [13] Support for installing additional languages is included in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista. [14] In the Ultimate edition, the functionality is made available through Windows Update as Ultimate Extras. [15]

Microsoft stated that 16 languages were made available on January 30, 2007. [16] The company released the remaining language packs on October 23, 2007 for a total of 35 language packs. [17] An additional 36th language pack version is available for Windows Vista that supports traditional Chinese characters with the Hong Kong encoding character set. [18]

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Hong Kong East Asian city

Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is the world's fourth-most densely populated region.

Microsoft Tinker

Microsoft Tinker is a puzzle game where players must navigate a robot through mazes and obstacles. A total of 60 levels are included, and players can create their own levels with a level editor. [19] [20]

Puzzle video games make up a unique genre of video games that emphasize puzzle solving. The types of puzzles can test many problem-solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. The player may have unlimited time or infinite attempts to solve a puzzle, or there may be a time limit, or simpler puzzles may be made difficult by having to complete them in real time, as in Tetris.

Robot A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.

A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer— capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. Robots can be guided by an external control device or the control may be embedded within. Robots may be constructed on the lines of human form, but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with no regard to how they look.

Level editor software tool to design video game graphics

A level editor is software used to design levels, maps, campaigns, etc. and virtual worlds for a video game. An individual involved with the creation of game levels is a level designer or mapper.

Hold 'Em

The Hold 'Em game. Hold 'Em (Windows Ultimate Extra).png
The Hold 'Em game.

Hold 'Em is a poker card game released on January 29, 2007 [7] that is fundamentally similar to Texas hold 'em. [1] [21] Hold 'Em allows users to play against up to five computer players and up to three levels of difficulty, and also allows users to customize aspects of the game's appearance; [1] the game relies on DirectX to produce hardware-accelerated 3D animations and effects. [22] For optimal performance, Hold 'Em requires a computer with a Windows Experience Index rating of 2.0 or higher. [7]

According to Paul Thurrott, Hold 'Em was originally intended to be bundled alongside the premium games— Chess Titans , Mahjong Titans , and InkBall —included by default with the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista, but was instead made an Ultimate Extra because of its gambling themes. [1]

Windows sound schemes

A total of three sound schemes for Windows Vista were released: Ultimate Extras Glass, Ultimate Extras Pearl, and Microsoft Tinker. The first two were made available on April 22, 2008, [23] while the latter was made available on the same day as Microsoft Tinker. [20] The Glass and Pearl sound schemes are similar to the Default sound scheme included in Windows Vista as they were also developed in accordance with the design language and principles of the Windows Aero graphical user interface. [24] [25]

Windows DreamScene

Windows DreamScene is a utility that enables MPEG and WMV videos to be displayed as desktop backgrounds. DreamScene requires that the Windows Aero graphical user interface be enabled in order to function as the feature relies on the Desktop Window Manager to display videos on the desktop. [26]

Proposed extras

Additional extras were also proposed but not released, including a podcast creation application, [27] a game performance optimization utility, [27] custom themes, [27] exclusive access to online content and services, [27] Windows Movie Maker effects and transitions, [2] templates for Windows DVD Maker, [2] digital publications, [28] and the Group Shot photo manipulation application developed by Microsoft Research and shown by Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2007. [29]

Although not considered to be Ultimate Extras by the company, the Ultimate Extras team also released two wallpapers for users of Windows Vista Ultimate. Titled Start and Strands, the wallpapers were based on the design of the Windows Vista Ultimate retail packaging and were made available in three different display resolutions. [30] [31]

Critical reception

Reaction to Windows Ultimate Extras was mixed. While Microsoft was praised for creating a value proposition for users who purchased the most expensive edition of Windows Vista, the company was criticized for its delays during delivery of updates, [32] [33] perceived lack of quality of delivered updates, [33] [34] [35] and a lack of transparency regarding their development. [28] [36] Early on, there were concerns that the features would not live up to users' expectations. [28] The company announced several Ultimate Extras in January 2007, but only a fraction of these were released five months later. [37] After months without an official update since January, Microsoft released an apology for the delays, stating that it intended to ship the remaining features before the end of summer of 2007. [37] The delays between consecutive updates and months of silence had led to speculation that the development team within the company responsible for the features had been quietly disbanded. [36]

When Microsoft announced its intentions to release the remaining Ultimate Extras and released an apology for delays, Paul Thurrott stated that the company had "dropped the ball" with the features. [37] Ed Bott wrote that Ultimate Extras were "probably the biggest mistake Microsoft made with Vista," and that the company would downplay the Ultimate edition of Windows 7 as a result. [12] Bott would later list them among his "decade's worth of Windows mistakes." [38]

Microsoft was also criticized for changing the description for Ultimate Extras within the operating system. The offerings slated to be made available were initially described as "cutting-edge programs," "innovative services," and "unique publications," but the description for the features within the Control Panel applet was later modified in Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to be more modest; this was interpreted as an attempt made by the company to avoid fulfilling prior expectations. [12] [39] [40]

Emil Protalinski of Ars Technica wrote that the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista "would have looked just fine without the joke that is 'Ultimate Extras'" and that the features were supposed to provide an incentive for consumers to purchase that edition, "not give critics something to point and laugh at." [41] In the second part of his review of Windows 7, Peter Bright of Ars Technica wrote that "the value proposition of the Ultimate Extras was nothing short of piss-poor." [42] Bright would later criticize Microsoft's decision not to release Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Vista, but would go on to state that this was still "not as bad as the Ultimate Extras farce." [43]

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