Microsoft Keeps Moving
On Dec. 7, Microsoft discontinued sales of the Windows 7 Family Pack, which featured three Windows 7 Home Premium licenses for $179. Microsoft claimed that the Family Pack had always been a limited-quantity offer-"The Windows 7 Family Pack was introduced as a limited-time offer while supplies last in select geographies," was how a Microsoft spokesperson put it in an e-mail to eWEEK-but the announcement was nonetheless greeted by a number of message boards with anger and something approaching incredulity. "This is the simplest thing for Microsoft to implement-licensing that makes sense for end users," one commenter wrote on the Windows IT Pro site. "Microsoft-Fix this! Family packs just make sense for about a million reasons and are common sense."The Family Pack had been announced as part of a wave of promotions for Windows 7 ahead of its Oct. 22 release, and the company evidently seemed to regard it as more of a gimmick than the beginning of a longer-term bulk-licensing offering. Perhaps Microsoft believed that the Family Pack and associated discounts had done their job; based on early indications, Windows 7 will perform better in the short term than Windows Vista, with a report by statistics company Net Applications suggesting that Windows 7's share of the overall PC market passed 4 percent by Nov. 9, outpacing its predecessor's rate of adoption. Microsoft also received some flack from the open-source community over its WUDT (Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool), which it removed from the online Microsoft Store in November due to allegations that it contained improperly copied open-source code. On Dec. 9, Microsoft restored the WUDT, supposedly revamped to follow the GNU GPLv2 (General Public License Version 2). Microsoft previously claimed that a third-party developer was responsible for copying the open-source code that put the original WUDT in violation of GPLv2. The free code for the WUDT can be found here, and the tool can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft Store through this link. Microsoft also took a moment the week of Dec. 7 to warn users that support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 2 would end in July 2010, perhaps attempting to goad at least a subset of those customers into migrating to Windows 7. Windows 2000 Server and Client support will also end on July 13, 2010, but customers who jump to Windows XP SP3 will have extended support until April 8, 2014. According to a report by research company Forrester, 80 percent of all commercial PCs were running Windows XP right before Windows 7's release. There is no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, although Microsoft has set up a Migration Guide that can be found here. The company has also created an End-of-Support Solution Center for Windows 2000, found here. Microsoft ended the week with announcements of two acquisitions. The first, Sentillion, is a privately held health care IT company that specializes in developing identity and access management technology for hospitals and caregivers. Microsoft said it intends to invest in Sentillion's technologies along with its own, while leaving the smaller company to deal with customer acquisition and management. The second company, Opalis Software, produces software that helps automate and streamline workflow processes within data centers. Along with that announcement on Dec. 11, Microsoft indicated that Opalis' software would be integrated into Microsoft System Center. The Opalis acquisition follows a pattern of large IT companies such as Microsoft purchasing outside automation and integration vendors and bringing their technologies in-house, and is reminiscent in some ways of past deals such as Hewlett-Packard's for Opsware. Other IT process automation technology vendors, such as NetIQ, remain independent. The new functionality and markets presented by those companies may help Microsoft overcome any pain from being dumped by the French military.
To install Windows 7 Home Premium on three PCs will now cost around $357 for three copies of the upgrade version, although resellers on Amazon.com and other retail sites were offering copies of the Family Pack at a considerable markup over the original $179 price point.