Microsoft ends discounted Windows 7 Family Pack deal (but maybe not for good)

Microsoft ends discounted Windows 7 Family Pack deal (but maybe not for good)

Summary: When Microsoft launched its Family Pack deal for Windows 7 this fall, officials said the offer would be a limited-time one. They declined to say when the company would phase out the Family Pack offer, but it now appears that day has come, as first reported by Windows SuperSite blogger Paul Thurrott.


When Microsoft launched its Family Pack deal for Windows 7 this fall, officials said the offer would be a limited-time one. They declined to say when the company would phase out the Family Pack offer, but it now appears that day has come, as first reported by Windows SuperSite blogger Paul Thurrott.

(Microsoft did the same with Vista; the Family Discount deal for Vista Ultimate that it offered back in 2007 was a temporary one.)

The Windows 7 Family Pack allowed users to buy three copies of Windows 7 Home Premium, as of late October, for $149.99 in the U.S. and other select markets. But according to the Microsoft Family Pack Web site, "The Windows 7 Family Pack offer has ended." (Computerworld says the offer ended on December 1, with availability curtailed a week before.)

Microsoft's marketing strategy around Windows 7 has been one meant to create excitement and demand. One way to do this is to make discounted offers "for a limited time only." Hurry up and get it or you'll lose out! Don't delay! Buy now! and all that jazz. Ending the promotion just before Christmas smacks of Grinchism, as my blogging colleague Ed Bott noted -- a trade-off that might do more harm than good (unless good is measured solely by how many more dollars it helps Microsoft rake in from holiday shoppers).

Here's one thing to remember, though: Throughout the development of the product, the Windows 7 management also has been emphasizing "we're listening to our users." (Examples: Here and here.) So even though Microsoft isn't saying it plans to resume the promotion, don't be too surprised if the Softies do an about-face in the coming weeks and decide to offer again for a limited time more copies of the Windows 7 Family Pack. (Especially if enough users threaten to dump Windows for Mac OS X.)

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Thank you MJ

    "Happy Holidays to you and your readers from Microsoft"

    How many more stupid moves can they make in 2009?
  • Only Americans are silly enough to think "limited-time" means forever!

    US Americans are so out of touch that we've lost our ability to live in a capitalisitic world any more. We are behind in most every category in the world except arrogance. MS became what they are because they seized and idea (regardless of how they got it :-) ) and ran with it. They did not get there giving everything away forever (except IE :-) ). We need to get out of the habit of wanting or even wishing for these continued handouts. Lets get back to paying for what we want. That way we can demand more. You can't complain when you are getting handouts. You are at a disadvantage.

    Secondly, XP is safe, Vista is now safe and working. There is no reason to move to 7 at this moment unless you are a techy or buying a new computer. All this whining is generally coming from underachievers that always want something for nothing! I say get a technet subscription (for $150 more), install on all home computers and rest your neck - Slackers! Think for once :-)
    • For a company that wants adoption of their

      product, this offer should last for 6 months, actually it should become a permanent SKU. Personally I was hoping to get on the other side of the holidays to purchase this upgrade pack, but since it is sold out, my house will not be adopting Windows 7, as I will not pay $120 per machine X 3 to do it. Sorry MS Christmas Presents for the family take precedence over upgrading the household computers, and since I will not pay $120 per machine for upgrade, it is MS loss.

      I have also decided that since MS seems to be all greed lately on upgrades, that at my next upgrade cycle for my machines, I will be buying into the competition. $120 is just too much to upgrade for, whereas with Apple one can buy a family pack at anytime, for any one of their products, and upgrade on 5 machines. Going forward where having more than one machine in our household, this is only going to make more sense.
      • Ok.....

        Sorry you will be loosing out on Win 7. Just as the previous commentor posted you expected it to be around forever and it stated limited time only. I do think they should have kept it around for the holidays, but I suspect they are making high enough sales that they don't need to keep the promotion around so they aren't. Go ahead and spend $5000+ for three new machines from Apple, but sure hope you don't have buyers remorse when you find its nothing amazing but just another OS with some wiz bang, but not enough bang for the buck. I just think its funny how you complain about $360 but would rather go spend thousands instead. Maybe my calculator is messed up or something.
      • Wow

        So let me get this straight, because you dont want to spend 120 per machine to upgrade to 7, you would rather spend 6k on apple desktops? Ok how much does a family pack of macs cost? Yeah not cheap.
        • Actually, I saw it a different way...

          He already owns that 6K worth of Crapple...has either never owned Microsoft or hasn't in a while, and thought he was being clever in his ABM-style post. And we saw how successful he was in THAT endeavor.
      • Listen: This is not something within your control or is it!

        You can go spend all that money on Apple or spend an additional $150 on a MS technet license and have access to everything software package MS sells (other than development tools). You are thinking with your emotions and not your wallet. Apparently you have the money to blow. So go blow it. Todays recession isn't hitting you at all. Right!!!. I have Macs in my home too. I just bought a 24" Cinema Display that I found out is NOT compatible with the "24 Imac I just bought last year. Argh! How could this be. Apple says, they are moving on with new technology - but my IMac from just last year can't use a monitor the same company puts out this year. Goodness!!! Don't get me wrong, I love my Mac's but remember they come with their pain too and if you think MS has no regard for their customers, wait until you experience Apple.
        • Technet license is only for evaluation and testing purposes.

          You cannot legally use the licenses outside of these purposes.
          • And do pray tell how you TEST without using it in a normal way!!!

            I am a techy and my family test every OS I install. I am a better techy based upon immediate feedback I get from around the house.
          • The terms of the Technet license spell out what is permitted.

            I'm sure you'll find some creative way to say you're testing but we'll all know it's bogus. While Microsoft won't come breaking down the door if someone is using a Technet license improperly many people like to follow the law and abide by the terms of a license. Apparently you're not one of us.
          • "one of us"

            Dude, you barely stick to the letter of the rules on ZDNET and have the nerve to talk about following the letter of the EULA. When you find a violation. Let me me know. Until them, go back to being mall cop.
          • @andrej770: Nice ad hom.

            When you've got a real argument we can talk.
    • Oh come on, Americans always demand LESSER PRICES

      what is wrong with you? don't know that being american means being able to demand anything for a lesser price if not free? it's also basic economics of demand and supply where it works both ways in setting the price.

      of course, microsoft will push very hard how much they want to charge as their pricing. nonetheless, although prices may drop on a lot of other things, in contrast the price of the latest version of windows may stay up there because the microsoft corporate bloat must be supported somehow.
      • At least you know the process.

        Corporate greed is everywhere; not just with MS. Look at Verizon and their new $350 early termination fee "for advanced devices"; like terminating early for an advanced device cost them more than terminating early for a less advanced device. Hmmm, I smell a rat!
        • In Verizon's Defense...

          I never thought I'd be defending Verizon, but upping the ETF kinda makes sense, given the higher subsidies they're giving. If they're subsidizing a $500 handset down to $199, they're essentially loaning you $300 to be paid back over the course of the contract. Charging a $180 ETF would mean that if someone cancels after 30 days, Verizon lost $120 on the deal. The $180 termination fee made sense (and still does) with a generic $149 MSRP Nokia candy bar phone, because even if they give that phone away for free, it still costs the user $30 more than purchasing the phone outright. With more and more people wanting more sophisticated phones, and a proportional number of them trying to work the system and being dishonest, despite the fact that I believe that it sucks to do so, I don't think that a higher ETF is nearly as unreasonable as it would have been a few years ago.

  • RE: Microsoft ends discounted Windows 7 Family Pack deal (but maybe not for good)

    In the words of Billy Crystal's "Fernando", Mary Jo, you look marvelous!
    But on the story, I was able to find one copy of the family pack and the next day, they were all sold out. At Sams Club, Fry's Electronics, BestBuy everywhere. I think they should bring it back for at least until the beta expires in March of 2010.
  • I Would Have Bought That For Christmas

    I would have bought the family pack. But the family pack is no longer available. So I'm not upgrading three computers that I was thinking of upgrading to Windows 7. No longer an urgent thing to do if can't do it as a christmas present for the family. Vista is good enough. Sorry Microsoft but you lost out on another upgrade customer.
    • Here come all the people who were "going to" upgrade. nt

      • hey dude. i was going to upgrade.

        hey dude. i was going to upgrade. i have two laptops and desktop that would have been upgraded. but hell, life gets in the way you know. like bills and mortgage payments and what not. upgrading to windows 7 can be at the lowest priority level for a lot of people. but obviously not for the minority of techhead geeks who are too full of themselves.

        the price for the family pack used to be like $150 but now you have opportunistic third-party sellers on amazon and ebay who want $260 for the family pack. no thanks.
        • So now its MS's fault you took to long to buy the pack

          and now you have to go to third party. Sounds like the same situation as waiting too late to buy tickets for a sporting game. Scalpers will get you for waiting too late. Life happens - participate!