UK may not get Windows 7 family pack

Microsoft has confirmed US customers will be able to buy a 'family pack' of three Windows 7 PC Home Premium licences, but says it is evaluating whether to do this in Europe

Microsoft plans to offer a 'family pack' for Windows 7 that can be used on up to three PCs in the US, but is not sure whether it will be sold in the UK.

The software maker acknowledged it would sell the bundle, which allows three installations of the Home Premium version of the operating system, in a blog post on Tuesday. However, in a conference call on the release to manufacturing of Windows 7 on Wednesday, Microsoft executives acknowledged that the family pack may not be released in Europe, including the UK.

"We're evaluating that, to see how attractive it will be to the market and how effective, as it's been designed for upgrades, and in Europe we will be having the 'E' versions, which are full versions," John Curran, director of the Windows Client group at Microsoft UK, said in the call.

Microsoft had already included references to the family pack as part of licensing terms in a test version of Windows 7 that leaked onto the internet.

Windows users have been calling for a family pack since before Windows Vista, and Apple has offered a family pack for Mac OS X since 2002. With Vista, Microsoft had a promotion for a time that allowed those who bought a copy of the Ultimate edition to buy up to three copies of Home Premium at a discount. Apple's family pack covers up to five machines.

Microsoft did not say in its blog post on Tuesday how much it will charge for the family pack. Earlier this month, Microsoft ran a deal in the US where people in the US could order Windows 7 Home Premium for $49 (£29) and Professional edition for $99, but that deal has ended. A similar promotion in Europe is still going on, although it has sold out in some places.

Those who bought Windows Vista Ultimate complained that so far Microsoft has yet to offer a discounted way for them to move to Windows 7 Ultimate, feedback that Microsoft has said it is taking under consideration.

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