Windows Vista Ultimate is Microsoft's operating system with all the whiz and bang for all users. But there is something important missing after all: Extended lifecycle support. Windows Ultimate support ends on April 10, 2012. Windows Vista Business and Enterprise both receive Extended Support, which means five more years—or April 11, 2017. According to Microsoft's Support Lifecycle Web page, support for consumer products ends after five years. There is no Extended Support option. I had always assumed that Windows Vista Ultimate, which Microsoft pitches as having the most consumer and corporate features, would be supported for more than five years. Besides, Microsoft does offer Ultimate to businesses for volume-licensing purchase, with caveats such as single activation.
Laura DiDo, an analyst with Yankee Group, isn't surprised by the five-year support for the software. "Vista Ultimate is more of a consumer purchase," she said. For businesses deploying Windows Vista Ultimate, however, the clock already is ticking down to the end of support. While Ultimate may not be standard fare on corporate desktops—even Microsoft is standardized on Vista Business, or so say some employee sources—small businesses are good candidates for the software. Likewise are universities. For schools with campus wide volume-licensing agreements, standard desktop distribution is Office Enterprise 2007 and Windows Vista Ultimate.