In a bid to differentiate the expensive and high-end Windows Vista Ultimate from the other Vista product editions, Microsoft promised to release a series of so-called Ultimate Extras, optional and exclusive downloadable software applications. There's just one problem: The software giant has so far released only a very small number of these add-ons, and the ones they have released aren't particularly interesting. Not surprisingly, customers who paid exorbitant fees to obtain Vista Ultimate aren't too happy about this turn of events.

Finally, after several months of silence, Microsoft has responded. "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," Barry Goffe, a Microsoft Director, wrote in the Windows Vista Ultimate blog. "We apologize for taking so long to provide a status update to customers."

How long has it been? Microsoft officially announced the Extras in January, but still has yet to deliver a final version of the Dreamscene add-on the company demonstrated that month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Meanwhile, prior to Goffe's post, Microsoft hasn't mentioned Ultimate Extras in an official capacity since March.

To date, Microsoft has delivered just four Extras: the Windows Hold'Em game, Secure Online Key Backup, Windows BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool, and 16 Language Packs for the Windows multi-language user interface (MUI). The company now promises to ship Dreamscene and 20 more language packs "by the end of the summer" and offers a vague promise to deliver additional Extras "over the next couple of years."

Spare me. Microsoft has completely dropped the ball with Vista Ultimate Extras and while this week's apology is certainly appreciated, it's been a long time coming. If Microsoft seriously wants to differentiate Vista Ultimate from the other Vista product editions, it should be more transparent about what Extras it intends to ship, and when.