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.)