Microsoft last week unveiled three free downloadable add-ons for Windows Vista Ultimate, the first time in five months that the company has refreshed its "Ultimate Extras," once a chief selling point for the operating system's highest-priced edition.
The add-ons include a puzzle game, dubbed "Tinkers;" a Windows sound scheme based on the game; and new content for Dreamscape, a video-based screensaver.
User reaction on Microsoft's own Vista support forum was lukewarm. "I downloaded them, installed them, viewed them, and will [be] un-installing them," said a user identified as "BChat" in a terse message.
"Yes, they are a little disappointing," echoed another user, John Barnett, on the same thread.
Microsoft has faced criticism over Ultimate Extras for more than a year. In June 2007, for example, bloggers such as Long Zheng, who writes iStartedSomething, and Josh Phillips, author of WindowsConnected, blasted the company for releasing only a small handful of the add-ons since Vista's debut in January of that year.
Last September, when Microsoft shipped one extra, apparently in response to the increasing complaints, it said it had no intention of dropping the feature.
When Microsoft launched Vista, it touted Extras as one of the main features that separated the then-US$399 operating system from Home Premium, which was originally priced at $239. Since then, Microsoft has cut Vista retail prices across the board; it now sells the full version of Ultimate for $319, for instance.
Some users continued to complain today about the quality and quantity of Ultimate Extras as Microsoft rolled out the new game, sound scheme and screensavers.
"I am so disappointed," said a user from the Netherlands named "Roeland" in a comment to a Microsoft company blog used to announce the new add-ons. "Microsoft said Vista Ultimate Extras would contain cutting edge, innovative programs, can't you do something better than sound schemes and a stupid game? I feel so betrayed, spending hundreds of Euros on what I thought to be a great OS with a lot of (coming) features."
The new add-ons can be downloaded only by Vista Ultimate users, who can find them on the Windows Update screen.
This story, "Microsoft Ships Add-ons for Vista Ultimate" was originally published by Computerworld.