Windows 7 Family Pack: It's Baaaaaaack! And That's Annoying

By  |  Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Good news! Microsoft is celebrating the first anniversary of Windows 7’s release by bringing back the Windows 7 Family Pack which it briefly offered when the OS shipped. The Family Pack offers three Windows 7 Home Premium upgrades for $149.99, and is an excellent deal considering that one upgrade license sells for $119.99. It goes on sale October 3rd in the US, and as before, it’s available “while supplies last.”

I don’t mean to be churlish about an attractive offer, but I simply still don’t understand why the Family Pack is a once-in-a-while special offer rather than a basic fact of life for Windows users.

With Apple’s OS X, the Family Pack is a version, not a sale. Multiple-user pricing is quite common elsewhere, too (random example: Buying Trend Micro’s Internet Security entitles you to install it on three PCs). Offhand, I don’t know of any other software company that offers family pricing, then takes it away, then brings it back…and warns you that it’ll go away again at some unspecified point.

The Windows 7 Family Pack’s scarcity is purely artificial–supplies are limited because Microsoft makes them so. And it pointlessly confuses buying decisions for Microsoft customers. Were you planning to buy Windows 7 for two or more home PCs? Now you’ve got to decide whether it makes sense to postpone your purchase for a month until the Family Pack is back. And once October comes, you won’t have any idea how long you have until “supplies” of the Family Pack run out again.

As far as I can tell, there’s something deeply rooted in Microsoft’s corporate psyche that leaves it suspicious of simplicity. If it just made Family Pack a permanent addition to the Windows lineup, it would be making a clear statement that it wants to make it easy for folks to make intelligent buying decisions. But here’s the message I take away from the way the company dangles the deal sporadically: It just doesn’t take its most loyal customers quite as seriously as Apple and other major software outfits take theirs.


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Tim Joiner Says:

    Someone called me today and said they needed to buy Microsoft Office. We had to have a 20 minute conversation about all the different versions, what's in each, how many PCs you can install it on, etc. I had to explain to her that she could buy the license key card for considerably less than the retail version with the DVD included, then download the software, but if you do that you can only install it on one PC instead of two, or maybe three. Poor lady's head was spinning. Thanks, Microsoft!

  2. Edwin Michael Rodriguez-Duplesis Says:

    If it took you that long to explain Office to that lady you should have known off the bat that she probably need Home and Student. Which then you say, do you want it for just one computer or up to three? If just one, get the card. If more, buy the box. If she needed Outlook, get Home and Office. If she needed anything more than that then she wouldn't have needed you help choosing a version.

  3. Matthew Guay Says:

    Office Home and Student is that simple … it always works on 3 computers in the same household. That's a big reason many families have started using Office 2007, and now 2010. They should definitely do it with Win7 permanently, too!

  4. John Obeto Says:

    This is one of the few instances where Microsoft is totally tone-deaf!

    How can such a loyalty-building no-brainer escape Redmond?

    Then again, if you look at it from the convoluted Windows Vista Family pack, then this is actually an 'upgrade'!

  5. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    The worst part of this is that most Windows users are stuck in 2001. An argument could be made for free or $29 Windows 7 upgrades just for the health of the platform. Especially after Vista and Longhorn and people buying 5 copies of XP over the years on new PC's! Imagine how much more Windows software would be sold and how improved it could be if 50% of Windows users suddenly upgraded to Windows 7.

    And here they are begrudgingly offering family packs with 3 $50 copies of Windows 7! Apple has 5 packs all the time and their users are 90% on the latest version and it's good for 3rd party developers and the whole platform.

  6. tekster Says:

    It's a Christmas gimmick pure and simple.

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  9. Gas Grills on Sale Says:

    Windows 7 annoys me. I'm not really sure why, but it just does. To no end.

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