Microsoft owns up to Vista Ultimate letdown

By Scott Dunn

As reported last week, Microsoft’s Vista Ultimate team has been missing in action when it comes to supplying the “Ultimate Extras” that were promised back in January for the new OS.

But, since our June 28 story appeared, the team has finally broken its silence, making its first statement since Mar. 13.

Ultimate team apologizes, breaking long silence

My article on the unkept promise of Vista Ultimate Extras was followed up by interviews in ComputerWorld and elsewhere. Soon thereafter, the Vista Ultimate team finally commented on its failure to deliver any of the promised Extras. The statement by Barry Goffe, director of Vista Ultimate, on the Windows Ultimate Web site says:

  • “We want to let our Windows Vista Ultimate customers know that we are actively working to deliver the remaining Extras that we identified in January. Our goal is to provide the highest-quality, most secure and reliable offerings, and as a result we are continuing our work on these offerings. We apologize for taking so long to provide a status update to customers.

    “We intend to ship Windows DreamScene and the remaining 20 Language Packs by the end of the summer. We will not ship the last two Extras showcased in January (Windows DreamScene and the remaining 20 Language Packs) until they meet the high quality bar required by our enthusiastic customers — and we believe that we can achieve that bar by the end of this summer.

    “We also intend to deliver additional Extras in the future. In addition to Windows DreamScene and the remaining Language Packs, we plan to ship a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras over the next couple years that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers. We cannot identify dates or provide details at this time — but once we ship Windows DreamScene and the remaining Language Packs, we will provide more information about the next Extras.”

Unfortunately, the statement — the first comment of any kind to appear on the team’s home page in nearly four months — includes no actual specifics of Extras to come and no schedule of dates the team can be held to.

Microsoft rescinds WGA requirement for critical patch

A number of readers attempted to fix the Svchost.exe problem described in our June 21 issue by downloading the update described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 927891. Many of them, including Holly Vincent, discovered that Microsoft was requiring them to first install and run the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) utility. An earlier version of this intrusive and error-prone tool was denounced by editorial director Brian Livingston as spyware one year ago. Holly writes:
  • “It’s rather sneaky on Microsoft’s part. If one runs the Microsoft Update that is recommended, isn’t Windows Genuine Advantage slipped in as well? I’ve never been a fan of WGA, as it presumes my OS’s guilt and asks me to prove its innocence.”
After receiving similar complaints, I contacted contributing editor Susan Bradley, who passed the complaint on to her contacts inside Microsoft. “WGA is normally kept off anything security related,” Susan told me. “It wasn’t on that patch before. This was a screw-up on the part of Microsoft.”

The Svchost.exe patch can now be downloaded and installed without having to install WGA. Thanks to all the readers whose complaints made Microsoft correct the situation.

How to check Windows Update’s version number

I gave instructions in the June 28 issue on checking Windows Update’s version number. A few readers wanted to know if they needed to check the version number of other files with similar names. The answer is no — you only need to check the version of Wuaueng.dll (not Wuaueng1.dll or any other file).

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