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.


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.

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