Is the Windows Vista Family Discount a deal?

Reader Bill W. has a question about Microsoft’s offer of a discounted price on up to two Vista Home Premium licenses if you purchase a copy of Vista Ultimate:

If I buy an OEM version of Vista Ultimate (full) will I still be able to do the two extra Home Editions (upgrades) for the $49.95 each? I have two existing machines, but I’ve just built a new machine and would like to do it this way.

Sorry, no. According to the official Windows Vista Family Discount page, the qualifying products are “full or upgrade retail boxed product.” OEM copies don’t qualify.

That raises the interesting question of whether this is actually a good deal. Let’s run the numbers, assuming you have three PCs, all with Windows XP installed, all capable of running Vista. (All prices are from

OEM price

Vista Ultimate:  $200

Vista Home Premium (2 copies @ $120 each): $240

Total: $440

Upgrade/Family Discount

Vista Ultimate retail upgrade: $250

Vista Home Premium Family Discount licenses (2 copies @ $50 each): $100

Total: $350

That’s a $90 savings. In fact, it’s still a deal even if you only buy one family Discount license. The OEM cost of one Ultimate and One Home Premium license would be $320, compared to the $300 you’d pay for the Ultimate upgrade plus a $50 Home Premium license.

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6 thoughts on “Is the Windows Vista Family Discount a deal?

  1. Ed,
    Which OEMs ship Vista Ultimate? I’ve been waiting to buy a Thinkpad, but it only seems to offer Vista Business as an option. What do I do if I want Ultimate on a Thinkpad? Also, when will the new Office suite be bundled? Lenovo is still bundling Office 2003 on Thinkpads. I would have thought everyone would be bundling the new Office by now. Thanks.

  2. Interesting, thanks for the info.

    However, part of me would actually prefer to spend extra $90 and have a version of Vista Ultimate that can be clean-installed 🙂 (sans workarounds)

  3. The OEM disk is great as long as you are willing to give up your support from Microsoft. Since I can probably get all the answers I need from sources on the internet, I will probably go with an OEM disk when I finally decide to move to Vista in the distant future. I wonder, is the OEM disk the same as the retail or upgrade disk, in that it will load any version of Vista depending on the key that you have? In which case, while you may not be able to get the family discount deal, can you buy extra licenses from Microsoft and install them from the same disk?

  4. OEM price:

    Vista Ultimate (3 pack): $717.61 on Amazon

    Family Discount:

    Vista Ultimate (upgrade): $249.99

    2 discount Home Premium: $100

    2 Anytime Upgrades: $318

    Total: $667.99


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