Microsoft Discontinues Windows 7 Family Pack, Claiming Sellout
Microsoft discontinued the sale of the Windows 7 Family Pack, which included three Windows 7 Home Premium licenses for $149, saying it was a limited-quantity offer. Although Family Pack seems to have been pulled from Microsoft's online store, copies are available at considerable markup through resellers on sites such as Amazon.com. Microsoft offered a number of promotions and discounts ahead of Windows 7's launch, in a bid to ensure that the new operating system would post solid sales numbers in the weeks and months following its release.When Microsoft told consumers in July that its Windows 7 Family Pack would be sold in limited quantities, it evidently meant it: Over the weekend, holiday shoppers and analysts alike noted that the upgrade, which offered three Windows 7 Home Premium licenses for $149, had begun to disappear from online storefronts such as Amazon.com. A number of message-board denizens greeted that news-which began propagating on blogs such as Windows IT Pro-with anger and borderline incredulity.
"This is the simplest thing for Microsoft to implement-licensing that makes sense for end users," one commenter wrote on Windows IT Pro. "Microsoft-Fix this! Family packs just make sense for about a million reasons and are common sense."
A family wanting to install Windows 7 Home Premium on three PCs will now pay around $357 for three copies of the upgrade version if they buy from Microsoft's online store. That represents a cost markup of $208. The Windows 7 Family Pack, released along with Windows 7 on Oct. 22, was just one of many promotions that Microsoft tied into the release of its newest operating system. Originally available only in the United States and Canada, Redmond later extended the Family Pack option to other countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden. In what may have piqued a smidgen of ire among purchasers in the United Kingdom, the Windows 7 Family Pack there sold for 150 pounds, or roughly $246-a considerable price increase over the U.S. version. The Family Pack and other discounts may have well accomplished Microsoft's goal, at least as far as the company's executives are concerned: Although higher-ups such as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer publicly downplayed the possibility of sales success ahead of Windows 7's release, a large number of consumers adopted the operating system. A report by statistics company New Applications suggested that Windows 7's share of the overall PC market passed 4 percent by Nov. 9, outpacing Windows Vista's rate of adoption. Microsoft doubtlessly hopes that a widespread adoption of Windows 7 will help the company reverse a declining revenue trend, driven in large part by an economic recession and attendant dip in sales of PCs and related IT infrastructure. During an Oct. 23 earnings call, Microsoft executives signaled that longer-term sales of Windows 7 would be driven by a potential pickup in PC sales throughout 2010 and beyond. Whether Microsoft will revive some sort of Windows bulk-licensing scheme remains to be seen. For the moment, however, the company seems more than willing to position the Family Pack as a promotional gimmick.