Last year, in the run-up to the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft rewarded early adopters with a series of discounted upgrade offers. And then, as quickly as they appeared, those deals vanished.
But if you're willing to wait a month or so, one of the best of those deals is about to make a triumphant return. Beginning October 3 in the U.S., you'll once again be able to buy the Windows 7 Family Pack, which gives you three upgrade licenses of Windows 7 Home Premium for an estimated retail price of $149.99. (Typically, online retailers discount that price by 10 bucks or so.)
If you can use all three licenses at an average cost of $50 each, this deal represents a savings of 58% off the best available retail price of roughly $120 for a single upgrade license. As I noted last year when this deal first appeared:
If you have two or more PCs in your home and you want to upgrade them to Windows 7, this deal is for you. […] It includes two DVDs: one copy each of the 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade installation media. You get a single product key that can be activated on up to three different PCs.
The license says you can install Family Pack upgrades on up to three PCs in the same household, for use by residents of that household. When I asked Microsoft whether it was OK to use this license in a home business, I was told, officially, “There is no restriction around use of a license for business purposes conducted within the home,” although naturally they recommended Windows 7 Professional for those situations.
Nothing in the license prevents you from mixing and matching the 32-bit and 64-bit versions on up to three PCs in your household. But no, you can’t share licenses with your neighbor or your cousin in Peoria.
According to Microsoft, the discounted three-pack will also be available in Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, and possibly other markets, with most on-sale dates timed to the one-year anniversary of Windows 7's launch on October 22.
Microsoft warns that the return of the Family Pack is a limited-time offer and will end when supplies run out. Last year, that took about six weeks.
Don't say I didn’t warn you.