I wanted to keep my mouth shut on this one, but its getting a bit disturbing for me to continue doing so. Windows Ultimate Extras has been in the works for a long time now from early on in the Vista Beta. Vista Ultimate RTMed late January, but so far the UE folks have only released some stuff that honestly do not make this particular SKU a must have. I still have some confidence left in me that more value will show up over time, but the wait for more stuff has been rather long since downloading Hold ’em Poker, Bitlocker with Online Backup in February. The recent preview of DreamScene has been well, ok, but has not brought any wow factor to my user experience. Also, where are those other DreamScene backgrounds I saw at the launch event? Why are they taking so long, what needs to be fixed?
I need progress updates, I need more value, right now, Vista Business and Home Premium are looking like the most sensible choice for most users planning on moving to Vista. Yep, its obvious, I’m a bit frustrated, but I believe I have good reason to be. Vista Ultimate has a 5 year life support expectancy, but, the major gaps between UE releases are too wide, the value its adding just does not seem worthy enough. While Ultimate Extras does have the edge by melding together features of the Consumer/Business branches, looking deeper, what are you missing out on really?
- Domain Join (Business and Enterprise Edition)
- Media Center (Home Premium)
- Windows DVD Maker (Business Edition)
- Windows AERO (Home Premium, Business)
- Tablet PC (Home Premium, Business)
- Meeting Space (Home Premium, Business)
- XBOX integration (Home Premium)
- Complete PC Backup (Business)
- Remote Desktop (Business)
Right now, Vista Home Premium win’s out carrying a majority of the features most users are looking for. If you are connecting more than five PC’s in a work environment, Business Edition continues to be the best value. At the office, we only have 10 PCs connected to a Server running Server 2003 Standard in workgroup mode and we are able to do what we want just fine. So, for most small businesses, looking to Ultimate as getting everything cheaper without the need to invest in an Enterprise Agreement to get features like Bit Locker, is not a sensible decision.
To be honest, I don’t use Media Center/XBOX 360, Tablet PC and Meeting Space. But, features like Windows Movie Maker and DVD Maker (Home Premium) are tools I’m finding the time to use more and more. Microsoft’s marketing has mismatched the features in so many way’s, you can’t get away without thinking about Ultimate as the best choice. But at the same time, you have to ask yourself, do I really need all these features? In most cases, you probably have a third party application that can offer whats only available in Ultimate and missing in a cheaper SKU.
When I look at the big picture, having all features isn’t a justified reason for purchasing Ultimate. Especially if you don’t have the hardware to fully take advantage of it. So, my final recommendation is, when you go out to purchase Vista (if you do), focus primarily on Home Premium or Business, these two seem to have the needs of most users. Also, its not a distasteful idea to scrap the Ultimate SKU you and sell off some of the services of Ultimate extras as optional add-ons (ala-Plus!) for users of the lower SKU’s. But that would be taking it a bit too far I would assume. I just wish the releases were more rapid. <sigh>