Microsoft revives Windows 7 Family Pack discount

Offer starts Oct. 3, gives consumers three upgrades from XP or Vista for $150

Microsoft today said it will revive last year's multi-license Windows 7 Family Pack in early October for U.S. customers.

The Family Pack gives consumers three upgrade licenses from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 Home Premium. The $150 price tag is the same Microsoft put on the package last year when it offered the deal for several weeks after the Oct 22, 2009, launch of the new operating system.

This year's offer will likely be short-lived, too: Microsoft spokesman Ashley Brown said it would run "while supplies last," the same phrase the company used in 2009.

U.S. customers can purchase the Family Pack starting Oct. 3, while consumers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K. and other markets will be able to buy it on or after Oct. 22, Brown said.

At $50 per upgrade, the Pack is a bargain compared to Microsoft's usual pricing, which pegs a Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade at $120. Retailers often knock $10 or so off that price; Amazon.com, for example, sells the stand-alone upgrade for $109. Even at that price, the Family Pack represents a per-license discount of 54%.

In 2009, Microsoft let retailers take pre-orders on the Pack several days before its Oct. 22 launch.

Last year, Microsoft ran the special to no later than Dec. 1, although some users reported that they had seen the Pack disappear from the company's online store as early as Nov. 26. If Microsoft sticks to the same schedule this time, it could end the deal by Nov. 7.

The sudden disappearance of the Family Pack in 2009 raised hackles as customers complained that there was no warning the offer would vanish. "[I] am frustrated as I had planned on picking up the Family Pack in December," said someone identified as "TonyB" on an Answer.com message thread last year.

Microsoft did not specify when it would end 2010's offer.

Family Pack will be sold at select brick-and-mortar and online retail outlets, as well as through Microsoft's own e-store and the small number of retail stores the company now operates.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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