Microsoft doesn't block WU, and it's more than likely they'll release a third service pack (or at least an update rollup) as it approaches the end of lifecycle date.
It's a sad fact that consumer softwares get earlier end-of-lifecycle dates compared to "Enterprise" stuff, but this dates back to the 9x/NT separation (where 9x had four major updates in the same space that NT had two). With the "unified" model Microsoft
needs to sort this out.
The 2012 date for Ultimate is not exactly sad, but outrageous actually.
Ultimate was (and still is!) advertised as business OS, too:
When you want to have it all, including the ability to shift smoothly between play and
productivity, there's Windows Vista Ultimate. This edition of Windows Vista
offers an advanced, business-focused infrastructure, mobile productivity, and a premium home digital entertainment experience, all in a single offering.
Windows Vista Ultimate offers all of the features found in Windows Vista Home Premium, including Windows Media Center, Windows Movie Maker with high-definition support, and Windows DVD Maker.
It also offers all of the features found in Windows Vista Business, including business networking, centralized management tools, and advanced system backup features. And Windows Vista Ultimate has all of the new security and data protection
features that help take Windows Vista to a whole new level of dependability.
If you want a single PC that fulfills all of your work, travel, and entertainment needs, or if you simply want to be confident that you have the very best, Windows Vista Ultimate is the no-compromise edition for you.
And here MS advertises it again for business users:
http://www.microsoft.com/canada/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/ultimate/default.mspx (click on "safer")
Windows Vista Ultimate includes support for joining a network domain—a standard business networking feature that enables improved security and manageability for business PCs. Windows Vista Ultimate also includes support for Group Policy. This helps system
administrators save time and reduce security risks by configuring wireless network settings, removable storage devices, printers, Internet Explorer, and even power-management settings centrally and automatically.
In addition, Windows Vista Ultimate includes the essential IT infrastructure found in Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise so that your PCs and IT infrastructure can grow as your
business grows and thrives.
As I said, i know some smallish businesses who bought it exactly for that. And let's not forget that Bitlocker for example was not available in Vista Business, only in Enterprise and Ultimate. And Enterprise was not easily available, only through the Software
So businesses who wanted to use bitlocker but had no Microsoft Software Assurance had no other choice but ultimate. The same with the multi-language UI
Ultimate was advertised for the power users, BUT also for the business user who (for example) works at home and wants some of the entertainment features, like Mediacenter, too. And for the small businesses who need the additonal ultimate features but don't
To classify it as just as a normal consumer edition is absurd. And contradictory to Microsoft's own advertising.