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Windows 7 Family Pack saves users money, Anytime Upgrades doesn't

Microsoft unveils prices for 3-license pack, in-place upgrades

July 31, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft today announced the prices of a multi-license "family pack" for Windows 7, as well as the prices for the in-place Anytime Upgrades users can buy to bump up to the next level of the operating system.

As reported earlier this month when resellers leaked the information, the upcoming Windows 7 Family Pack will be priced at $149.99. The pack lets buyers upgrade as many as three PCs from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 Home Premium. Microsoft will start selling the pack Oct. 22, the same day as Windows 7's debut, in the U.S., Canada and what Microsoft calls "select markets."

A spokeswoman said retailers will be able to take pre-orders for the pack starting Oct. 18, but added that she had no idea whether those pre-orders would be offered at a discount, as were pre-orders for Windows 7 this month.

Priced at $149.99, the Family Pack would save the buyer $210 over three separate Home Premium Upgrades. The $50 per license price tag for Windows 7 is a 38% savings compared to the $80 per license that Microsoft charged for a two-license family pack for Vista back in 2007.

Microsoft also revealed the pricing of its Anytime Upgrade scheme, which lets users move up the Windows 7 edition stack by buying, say, an upgrade from Starter, the version slated for the very cheapest netbooks, to Home Premium.

In that scenario, an AnyTime Upgrade costs $79.99, slightly less than the average price as leaked several weeks ago by four online resellers, who had it listed from $80.99 to $89.98.

Upgrades from Windows 7 Home Premium to Professional or Ultimate will cost $89.99 and $139.99, respectively.

At least one analyst has said those prices are too high to tempt users, particularly those who have bought inexpensive netbooks running Windows 7 Starter. "Microsoft needs to be more aggressive," Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group, said two weeks ago. "At those prices, there won't be many opportunities to [convince users to] trade up. If people are buying cheap [PCs] they're buying cheap for a reason."

Microsoft's not giving customers much, if any, discount once they have Windows 7. At suggested list prices, there's only an $80 difference between Home Premium Upgrade and Professional Upgrade, and $100 between the two "Full" editions. The Anytime Upgrade from Home Premium to Professional, meanwhile, costs $90.

It's even less enticing to take the Home Premium-to-Ultimate path using Anytime Upgrade. Microsoft's priced that at $140, higher than both the $100 difference between the retail Home Premium Upgrade and Ultimate Upgrade, and the $120 difference between the "Full" editions of those versions.

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