Microsoft to Offer Family Discount on Windows 7?

The world may be fixated on Google's Chrome OS, but some interesting rumors about Windows 7 Family Pack pricing leaked out yesterday. It looks like Microsoft has assigned a product number and a UPC code to something called Windows 7 Family Pack/Home Premium Upgrade.

Just plunk in the new product code GFC-00236 into Google Product Search and you'll see several online retailers offering the upgrade in the neighborhood of $140. The family discount price leak was first reported by ZDNet's Ed Bott, who found the upgrade being offered for just under $136.95 on a small, independent retailer's Web site.

The only problem is that when you get to the actual Web sites that are supposed to be seling the discounted upgrade, most retailers list the product as out of stock or discontinued. Other retailers don't have a live page for the family pack, even though Google lists the page in its search results. I guess Google's Web spiders must be a little too efficient. Interestingly enough, if you slap the family pack product code into Microsoft Bing's product search, the results page says, "Sorry, we did not find any product results for this search."

Last week, a reference to a 'Family Pack' was discovered in the licensing agreement for the latest beta release of Windows 7. The clause said a "Qualified Family Pack User" could install a copy of the software marked as 'Family Pack' on up to three computers in the same household.

Now I suppose it's possible the 'Family Pack' could be some sort of extra software bundle. However, I think we can say with near certainty that Microsoft will be introducing a family pack discount for Windows 7 -- bearing in mind that nothing is guaranteed until Microsoft says so. Not only do a number of retailers have the Windows 7 upgrade in stock, but a part number -- GFC-00236 -- and a UPC code -- 882224898249 -- are universal across all instances of the product that I found online.

The only thing that has me confused is why Microsoft hasn't been offering this family discount during its pre-order Windows 7 upgrade sale. Redmond is already letting you pre-order a single license upgrade for $50, so perhaps a further discount was too much of a giveaway for Microsoft. The Windows 7 pre-order upgrade sale in the United States and Canda expires on July 11, which means we may see an announcement over the weekend or early next week about permanent pricing for Windows 7 upgrades.

But it will be interesting to see if Microsoft only offers Windows 7 upgrades at a family pack discount, or if Redmond will see fit to introduce a full version of Windows 7 with a small volume discount for households. We may find out in just a few days time.

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