Windows Vista Ultimate was marketed by Microsoft as the operating system of "choice for those who want to have it all". But Microsoft has left out something very important from their "most complete edition of Windows Vista": Extended Lifecycle Support.
While browsing Microsoft's Support Lifecycle pages I observed some interesting oddities. According to the Windows Vista Ultimate Support Lifecycle page support ends on April 10, 2012, putting it in the same boat as Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium. On the contrary both Windows Vista Business and
Support for consumer products ends after five years and have no Extended Support option, according to Microsoft's Support Lifecycle Web page. It was always assumed that Windows Vista Ultimate, marketed by Microsoft as having the most consumer and corporate features, would be supported for more than five years. Microsoft currently offers Vista Ultimate to businesses for volume-licensing purchases.
The problem of limited support potentially creates numerous problems for small businesses looking for improved security. BitLocker Drive Encryption, which is extremely helpful in protecting sensitive data from theft, is available only in Vista Enterprise and Vista Ultimate. However, Vista Enterprise is available only through volume licensing purchases, which is very rarely utilised by small businesses.
The designated five years of Mainstream Support for Windows XP Home Edition and Media Centre Edition ended one month before the release of Windows Vista. However, Microsoft responded by extending its support for Windows XP for another five years up until April 8, 2014.
It is highly likely that Microsoft will bow to the increased pressure from customers to extend its support for Windows Vista Ultimate, much like they did with Windows XP.
An even more baffling contradiction is that the Microsoft Office product range is treated in a different way. The Office 2007 Support Lifecycle page, states that the Student and Home Editions will receive extended support right up until April 4, 2017. Even though these two editions are lower-end versions for consumers, they receive extended support just like their more expensive counterparts.
It seems Microsoft has decided that its ultimate version of Windows Vista, the “choice for those who want to have it all", is not worthy of Extended Support, while the lower cost consumer editions of Microsoft Office are. Only time will tell if Microsoft bows into the pressure from consumers of Windows Vista.