Windows

Examine the new Ultimate Extras available for Windows Vista Ultimate

If you're running Windows Vista Ultimate and have already upgraded to SP1, then you now have access to two new Ultimate Extras: Windows Sound Schemes and Windows DreamScene Content Pack #3. Greg Shultz takes a look at these two new Ultimate Extras.

If you're running Windows Vista Ultimate and have already upgraded to SP1, then you now have access to two new Ultimate Extras. The first set of new Ultimate Extras is called Windows Sound Schemes and consists of two sound schemes for Windows Vista, appropriately called Glass and Pearl. The second set of Ultimate Extras is called the Windows DreamScene Content Pack #3 and consists of three new video backgrounds.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll take a look at these two new Ultimate Extras.

This blog post is also available in PDF form as a TechRepublic Download.

The Ultimate Extras story so far

Before I tell you about the new Ultimate Extras, let's take a brief look at Ultimate Extras story so far. When Microsoft launched Windows Vista in January 2007, the promise was that anyone who shelled out more money for Windows Vista Ultimate would not only get the most advanced version of the Vista operating system, but would also have access to additional special features via Windows Ultimate Extras.

Many of us imagined that these extras would be similar to those found in the Plus packs for earlier versions of the Windows operating systems -- all sorts of cool wallpapers, screen savers, and games specifically designed to showcase the new Aero GUI. While a few Ultimate Extras, listed below, emerged within the first year, they were few and far between.

February 2007

  • Hold 'Em
  • Windows DreamScene - Technical Preview with 1 video background
  • BitLocker and EFS enhancements
  • 16 Language Packs

March 2007

  • Windows DreamScene Content Pack (4 video backgrounds)

September 2007

  • Windows DreamScene - Final Release
  • Windows DreamScene Content Pack Favorites (4 video backgrounds)

October 2007

  • 19 Language Packs

Finally, some new Ultimate Extras

Microsoft finally released some new Ultimate Extras last week in the Windows Update and the Windows Ultimate Extras page looked like the one shown in Figure A.

(Keep in mind that after the installation of SP1, you will no longer find the Windows Ultimate Extras listed on the Welcome page. Instead, you have to get to go straight to Windows Update by clicking on Start | All Programs and selecting Windows Update on the menu.)

Figure A

Seeing some new Ultimate Extras listed in the Windows Update with Windows Ultimate Extras page came as quite a surprise.

Installing the Extras

When you click the View Available Extras link, you'll be prompted to select the updates that you want to install. You can then select the check boxes adjacent to the Windows DreamScene and Windows Sound Schemes, as shown in Figure B. Then you click the Install button and work through the UAC that pops up.

Figure B

To download and install the new Ultimate Extras, just select the adjacent check boxes.
When the Extras are downloaded, you'll be prompted to restart your system, as shown in Figure C. Your system will then restart and begin step two of a three step installation procedure, during which your system will restart once more on its own.

Figure C

Once the download and first step of the installation is complete, you'll be prompted to restart your system.

Investigating the Sound Schemes

To investigate the new Sound Schemes, open the Control Panel, select Hardware and Sound, and then click Sound. When the Sound tool opens, select the Sounds tab. You can then click the Sound Scheme drop down and select either Ultimate Extras Glass or Ultimate Extras Pearl, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

The new Glass and Pearl sound schemes will appear in the Sound Scheme drop down.

Microsoft describes Ultimate Extras Glass Sound Scheme as follows:

"The Ultimate Extras Glass Sound Scheme utilizes the same design language and principals as the default Windows Vista sound scheme, however, this set has an additional glassy "edge" that can be heard as a more percussive envelope applied to each of the sounds. From one point of view, the sounds in this set feel like they are made with glass instruments. The sounds in this set have a sort of clinking glass root with a polished or "frosted" haze effect applied to their outer surface -- this is intended to be directly analogous to the transparent "glassy" windows effects that are built into the Windows Vista chrome."

Microsoft describes Ultimate Extras Pearl Sound Scheme as follows:

"The Ultimate Extras Pearl Sound Scheme further extends the intentionally-subtle design attributes of other Windows Vista default sound schemes and the Ultimate Extras Glass scheme, with a less focus on reverberant, sometimes clinking, "glassy" sounds in exchanges for a richer, milky, more percussive sonic palate. The Pearl sounds are harder and less reflective and reverberant, more like the rich sound surface of a pearl in contrast to the fragile resonance of a wine glass. More concretely, the Pearl sounds are cleaner, clearer, and brighter than the "Glass" sound scheme."

The new sound effects in both sound schemes are really nice -- the even contain sound effects for cutting, copying and pasting, which is really something different. Personally, I like the Pearl Sound Scheme sound scheme better. The effects are really nice sounding and there are more sound effects than in the original and the Glass. For example, there are sound effects for maximizing, minimizing, and restoring windows.

DreamScene caveat

If you haven't previously downloaded Windows DreamScene, you'll need to download and install the DreamScene engine first. When you do so, you'll have only the original video background. You'll then need to return to the Windows Update with Windows Ultimate Extras and download the new video backgrounds contained in the Windows DreamScene Content Pack #3 as well as the previous Content Packs. Keep in mind that it may take some time after installing the DreamScene engine before the new Windows DreamScene Content Pack #3 appears in the Ultimate Extras list.

Investigating the new DreamScene videos

The Windows DreamScene Content Pack #3 adds three new nature setting video backgrounds to the DreamScene collection. To investigate the new DreamScene video backgrounds, open the Control Panel and select Change Desktop Background under Appearance and Personalization. When the Desktop Background tool opens, you can select the Windows DreamScene Content from the Location drop down, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

When you select the Windows DreamScene Content from the Location drop down, you'll see the new backgrounds.

Just select one of the new nature based video backgrounds, described below, and click OK.

  • Water dripping from an icicle.
  • Water dripping from a leaf.
  • Autumn leaves blowing gently in the breeze.

Do these Ultimate Extras make the cut?

Will you download these new Ultimate Extras? Are you disappointed by the type, limited number, and lack of regularity of Ultimate Extra releases up to this point? Please drop by the Discussion Area and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

23 comments
rrawson
rrawson

Considering the price of Ultimate over other editions, I do not think that dreamscene and sound themes really make up the the extra pounds in the purchase equasion. I would have liked to have seen more practical items such as a gui for creating and modifying backups or image x Robert United Kingdom

askell
askell

Visa is at the best of times a memory cum CPU hog. How much more memory & how many more CPU cycles does the beast crave for an MPEG desktop background? Is this latest eye-candy a sign of M$ despair, prompted by sales not matching the Vista hype?

Open Minded Geek
Open Minded Geek

Hmm, Does this make Vista any better value for money? ... I think not Does this make Vista work any better? ... I think not Doe it give you something pretty to look at whilst your waiting for your workstation to respond to your mouse click? ... Maybe Think I'll be sticking with Windows XP

me
me

Who is this supposed to please? Wow, some new backgrounds, ooh..sound schemes.. that's really going to help with all this hardware cowering in the corner spitting at Vista as it's now considered obselete. Hey, is it a wonder that most compnaies and IT houses are just ignoring the fact Vista exists and are sticking to their guns with XP. Atleast they know where they are.. Vista is a 'Home' User look pretty, don't work package. Not a profenssional OS for a 'Working' environment. ...and these updates just prove that.. Eurgh!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Will you download these new Ultimate Extras? Are you disappointed by the type, limited number, and lack of regularity of Ultimate Extra releases up to this point?

jmiller544
jmiller544

Having new audio "EXTRAS" is nice I guess, but ever since I installed Vista Ultimate, all my audio has gone on vacation and doesn't want to return... Why doesn't the "Gates Group" focus more on the "Dis-Functional Functions", that most all of us Vista Victims could really use. Not meditation tunes. Only time will tell.... JP .....

ferenct
ferenct

Look at it this way: If you want to get a nail into wood you get a hammer. You get the tool that works for the use you need it for. I agree Vista is not a "business environment" use OS. But how many PC users are there that are NOT business uses. And for the home user it is pretty and cool and does it well. I use Vista, XP, Linux, sometimes in VMWare. I still use Vista more because it just flows better. Granted I hate all that "in your face" security and have to go through gyrations to change IP settings (just an example). Perfection is illusive, just take it for what or whom it works best for. Also, we all get excited by Microsoft hype and feel disappointed when our expectations are not met. Thats life. Enjoy it.

george
george

The minute MS pulled the development team from Vista and onto XP SP2 you knew Vista was a dead horse. No promised WinFS with Vista re-iterated this fact. I'll be advising that clients install XP SP3 (due next 7 months) before migration to new MS O/S. Note....... Vista = Millennium

ken.meyerkorth
ken.meyerkorth

Its like you visit Lord Ballmer and he grants you a boon.....which is in reality a worthless trinket that perverts your PC to a useless ogre. Then your quest becomes the race to close unnecessary things that the update started so you can get your resources back and win the game. This is just a game to these software assemblers at MS. They are the epitome of what happens when you give an infinite number of monkeys a workstation. Eventually they will cobble together something that only monkeys can use. Personnally, I have Vista on two boxes in my home and after enough tweaking to turn off all the surperfluous crap, they run very decent without hogging resources. In fact they run better than my XP box that I also use for testing which more often than not shows me a wonderful blue screen when resources get low. Remember....XP out of the box requires a huge amount of tweaks to get it right for the system too. So dont blame the OS, blame who purchased it for not getting a Mac.

SKDTech
SKDTech

Somewhat. I think there should be more after a year on the market. Particularly when it comes to the Sound Schemes. I used to play trumpet in band when I was in high school and I will admit my hearing is not what it once was due to service on an aircraft carrier. However I have trouble distinguishing much difference between the two new schemes and the original. Subtly different schemes are not what I am looking for in new content such as this, throwing a different filter on the default audio samples is not enough in my opinion. Thankfully I did not upgrade to Ultimate for the desktops and the sounds because so far neither the quantity nor the quality would have satisfied my expectations based on the price tag. And I personally couldn't care less about Hold'em Poker.

groffg
groffg

I wish there were more Extras, like the Plus packs in previous versions. Having said that, Vista's an improvement over previous versions. I like (and use) Vista's built-in full volume encryption (BitLocker) and I'm a big fan of the security enhancements in Vista (DEP, ASLR, UAC, SEH, and some other behind-the-scenes stuff). Security's more important to me than the bells and whistles. And for that, M$ deserves credit.

MGP2
MGP2

...the price. I'm sure it brought ultimate joy to Microsloth.

Bob G Beechey
Bob G Beechey

Why do so many people hear "Hear Hear" as "Here Here" with no thought of meaning or derivation? By the way - I disagree, have been using Vista Business for many months with no problem. The "Vista is the new ME" is just persistent tittle-tattle. It is unfortunate that a bad rap breeds a bad rap.

justin.parker
justin.parker

please don't bring mac's up if i wanted something i couldnt configure and adjust id buy a toaster or maybe a microwave

misi999
misi999

The Extras are nice, few as far between as they are, but I'm completely disappointed with Vista in general. It's nothing more that a glitzy modernized Me, full of bugs, slow and a resource hog - even on my 2GB RAM, dual-core 3GHz Dell machine. I'm switching back to XP.

waldenasta
waldenasta

I have been using Vista Ultima and its great. My system has only crashed once on in in months. No blue screens, not slow, and I like all the bells and whistles. Then again I am running alienware m9750 with 2gpu dual core, 4 gig ram...get real people you can't run the OS of the future on old hardware...get a decent machine. As for security,don't even get me started on why it's better. The AUC might be nuisance to some people but I like it. It reminds me of linux...the only thing I would change is that the AUC only come up for true admin, and like the regular stuff alone..after all if you are running your machine on the internet through the admin account, you deserve bad stuff taking over you box.

BigJohnLg
BigJohnLg

Spel chek iss good four evrbody.

semi-adult
semi-adult

Expecting literacy? Relevance? Intellegence? Will you never lurn?

BigJohnLg
BigJohnLg

Very good. It also used to be that I did not need an operator's manual for a toaster.

ttocsmij
ttocsmij

take it easy, Justin. Some folks like to buy computers to tinker with ... others like to buy computers to create with ... that's why M$ and Apple exist ... to provide these two groups with computers/software with which to accomplish these goals.