Update, September 2, 2010: Several of the deals listed in this post are no longer available. For the latest on the Family Pack, be sure to read this post: Windows 7 Family Pack discounts return. And be sure to read this follow-up post: Windows 7 deals: Harder to find, but still there if you look.
Only suckers pay retail.
If you've read any reviews of Windows 7, you've seen references to its price list, which ranges from $120 for a Home Premium upgrade to $320 for a fully licensed copy of Windows 7 Ultimate.
Well, guess what? You don't have to pay that much. Most people have much better options available, if you know where to look. As I've detailed here, the best deals go to PC manufacturers, which you benefit from if you buy a new PC.
But there are plenty of other discounts available as well. In this post, I've researched deals in three separate categories: upgrade offers available to anyone, special deals just for students, and subscriptions intended for technical professionals and developers.
Most of the details I include here apply to Windows customers in the United States, but some offers are also available in other countries. Where possible, I have tried to track down those details and include the names of countries where equivalent offers exist. If you live outside the U.S., follow these links to find prices and terms for your country.
My goal in this post is to point you to deals that customers legitimately qualify for. I am not trying to encourage attempts by anyone to get away with something you're not entitled to. If there are restrictions for a specific offer, I've noted them here.
[Update 6-Nov 1:00PM PST: Several people in the comments have asked why I didn't iunclude the Microsoft Action Pack in this post. Two reasons: First, it is available only to bona fide system builders, and that's a fairly small group of people. Second, and more importantly, the licenses it includes expire and must be decommissioned if you fail to renew your MAP agreement each year. Every other example I have here includes Windows licenses that are good in perpetuity.]
Ready to get started? Pick a category and go.
Page 2: Upgrade offers You can save as much as 58% off the regular cost of a Windows 7 upgrade if you know how to buy smart. I've found three options.
Page 3: Special deals for students If you're enrolled in a college or university, even taking a single course at your local community college, you can get Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional for $30. Students in technical or design majors can get Windows 7 (and many other Microsoft programs) for free if their university or college is signed up for the right programs.
Page 4: Windows (and much more) by subscriptions Are you an IT pro, a Windows enthusiast, or a professional developer? For a surprisingly low annual fee, you can get access to a staggering amount of Microsoft software, including every version of Windows or Office. There are some restrictions, so be sure to read the details carefully.