CES 2007: Vista Ultimate Extras revealed

The first major CES keynote, from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, revealed plenty of things we were expecting, and some we weren’t.

CES 2007: Vista Ultimate Extras revealed

The question of what exactly Vista’s Ultimate Extras will consist of has been one of the final surprises Microsoft has been able to keep mostly under wraps, until today. Ultimate Extras are the downloadable add-ons available exclusively to users of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, and as yet are unavailable in preview copies of Vista.

During the Gates keynote, Windows client group product manager Justin Hutchinson gave the standard Vista demo that we’ve become used to over the last six months, showing Vista’s search and live-preview prowess. But he shook things up a little by publicly showing two of the Ultimate Extras for the first time.

The first was an add-on called GroupShot; this is a photo application that allows you to take the best parts of two similar pictures – Hutchinson’s demo featured two successive shots of some children, two of whom had their eyes closed in either one or the other shot – and create “the picture you wish you’d taken” by combining them to create a new photo with the best parts of both.

Second up was a feature that’s been widely forecast in web rumours. Previously known as Motion Desktop and now rechristened DreamScene, this Extra bestows the Vista Desktop with the ability to show full-motion video. As Hutchinson introduced the feature, one of the familiar waterfall backdrop photos that ships with Vista suddenly transformed into a video of the same scene. Hutchinson then demonstrated the ability for any video to run under DreamScene, dragging a home movie onto the Desktop. The results made us feel a little queasy for the few seconds it was displayed, but it’s an impressive little trinket.

If this represents the sum total of Ultimate Extras then many people upgrading to Vista will probably save the cash and go for Home Premium instead. But taken as the first in a series of slick add-ons, the concept could have legs.

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