That hasn’t stopped there from being a ton of speculation, but is looks like we have the first semi-concrete information on Ultimate Extras, via some tidbits Paul Thurrott let drop in his “Long Road to Windows Vista” series. The short: Ultimate Extras replaces Microsoft Plus! There will be no Plus! pack for Windows Vista, Ultimate Extras is it, and Extras will, at a minimum, contain what users typically expect from Plus!, like added games, utilities, screensavers, Media Player add-ons (like skins and visualizations), digital media programs, and the like.
Additionally, Ultimate Extras will bring a really cool feature to Windows: animated desktops. The feature, called Aurora, is similar to the screensaver hack I explained earlier, only configurable as a part of the operating system. Aurora will come in a number of colors.
Before that happens, you can expect to hear more about the Windows Ultimate Extras that Microsoft will supply to Windows Vista Ultimate customers: Those will ship sometime in January. And no, there won’t be a Windows Vista Plus! pack: Ultimate Extras is it, and only available to those who pony up for that most expensive Vista version.
In February 2005, news began seeping out that Microsoft was considering adding an animated desktop feature, codenamed Aurora, to Longhorn. Aurora would be available in a number of colors, and many later confused it with aborted work on a true vector-based Aero UI that never materialized. Aurora will appear via the Ultimate Extras service in Windows Vita Ultimate in late January 2007.
Considering Paul’s top sources, and the definitive way he words the statements, we can put a lot of faith behind those pronouncements. Aero XP’s sources confirm the same, calling the feature “Motion Desktop”. Considering the surprising performance of running screensavers on the desktop, I suspect Motion Desktop, or whatever it is called in the end, to be a killer feature giving Vista Ultimate users something to brag about.