For months know, Microsoft has made it known that it planned to position its downloadable Vista Ultimate Extra add-ons as icing on the top tier of the Vista cake. What Microsoft hadn't made public -- until January 7 -- was exactly what would be part of the Ultimate line up.
But at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007 kick-off keynote by Bill Gates on Sunday night, Microsoft showed a bit of what Microsoft has planned for the first wave of Ultimate Extras. And at Microsoft's Windows Vista Lab, an event for about 60 bloggers, Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) and Windows community members held in Las Vegas on January 6 and 7, Microsoft officials filled out details on the rest of its Extras strategy.
Microsoft plans to make available only to Ultimate customers starting on January 30 -- the day that that Vista becomes available in the retail channels -- the following Extra downloadables:
* A Vista-customized version of the Texas Hold 'Em poker game
* Multi-user interface language (MUIL) packs, designed to allow individuals fluent in different languages to share the same PC. Microsoft plans to make MUILs available for 35 languages, in addition to English. (MUILs also are available to Vista Enterprise customers.)
* BitLocker Online Secure Key Storage. Ultimate customers will be offered a secure place to store their BitLocker encryption keys in the Online Vista Marketplace. That way, if they lose their keys, they will be able to retrieve them over the Web. (BitLocker encryption is a feature of the Ultimate and Vista Enterprise SKUs only.)
* Windows DreamScene, animated wallpaper technology that allows users to run high-resolution video inside the Vista Aero Glass user interface. Microsoft and selected partners, starting with Stardock Corp., will be providing sample content. DreamScene has been known by the codenames "Motion Desktop," and, more recently "Borealis."
* "Digital publications," a bunch of tips and tricks, blog links and other resources for getting the most out of Ultimate.
These are just the first few offerings under the Ultimate Extras banner. Microsoft is planning to roll out downloadables over time, company officials said.
Justin Hutchinson, a group product manager for Vista, showed off during Gates' keynote a bit of the capabilities of DreamScene. He also put through its paces a new a "photo-imaging" Extra developed by Microsoft Research. GroupShot allows users to combine elements of multiple pictures together into a new image.
At the Vista Lab, Microsoft officials said that GroupShot. is an example of the kinds of next-generation Extras that Microsoft has in the development pipeline and won't be available as part of the first round of Ultimate Extra downloads. Microsoft isn't going public yet with its packaging or delivery time frame for the next wave of Extras.