The only features truly unique to Vista Ultimate are BitLocker Drive Encryption and Multilingual User Interface, but Microsoft allocated features in Vista Business and Vista Home Premium so that they each lack a few useful features that Vista Ultimate includes. For example, Vista Home doesn't include Complete PC Backup; Vista Business omits Windows DVD Maker and several premium games.
There was one other open-ended benefit that may have upsold users into Vista Ultimate, and that was Vista Ultimate Extras. Microsoft offers a Web site to announce the new features; it's like you're part of an exclusive club. One of Microsoft's upgrade pitches for Ultimate says, "It's also a great choice for anyone who just wants the best and is attracted to the possibility of an ever-growing list of new features through Windows Ultimate Extras."
In reality, the list hasn't grown at all since Vista was released a year ago. It wasn't until late October 2007 that Microsoft finally cleared its backlog and delivered on its original promises. Yet Microsoft says that more is on the way. Barry Goffe, director for Windows Vista Ultimate, blogged this in September: We "plan to ship a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers."
Based on what has happened this past year, my advice would be that if you really need the things that are currently in Vista Ultimate, by all means buy it. Just don't buy based on the promise that more Ultimate Extras will appear soon. And if you're a "passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customer," take a cold shower.