Microsoft’s Grinch kills Windows 7 Family Pack

When Microsoft announced its intention to offer a Windows 7 Family Pack consisting of three upgrades to Home Premium edition for $150 or less, they warned that it was a “limited time offer.” Now we know just how limited it was.

image Today, barely six weeks after the public launch date on October 22, Paul Thurrott reports that stocks of the Family Pack have “disappeared” in the United States. Sure enough, when I checked at,, and Walmart this morning I found that the Family Pack stocks are gone, and scalpers have moved in. Enterprising Amazon Associates are offering copies for $260 or more. Even Bing Shopping turns up only one seller with the product in stock, at $272, which is nearly double its list price.

For Microsoft, this decision is stupid and short-sighted. It’s guaranteed to bring them a boatload of ill will and bad publicity in the final three weeks before Christmas. It looks greedy and decidedly not “customer focused.”

When I asked a Microsoft spokesperson for comment, here’s what I was told:

The Windows 7 Family Pack was introduced as a limited time offer while supplies last in select geographies. Response has been very positive and in some cases, the offer has sold out.  Customers interested in upgrading their PCs should purchase Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate upgrade products.

I haven’t heard much about the Grinch lately. Now I know why. He’s been hanging out in Redmond, working on marketing plans and drafting statements for the press.


27 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Grinch kills Windows 7 Family Pack

  1. The “while supplies last” line is especially rich. It’s the same f#@&ing product now, just priced differently.

    1. Actually, Jay, it’s not the same product. The Family Pack comes in separate packaging with keys that can be activated three times. What’s funny, of course, is that Microsoft could at any time choose to simply make more. It’s not like this is some rare precius metal. They choose to make it scarce.

  2. Unbelievable! In the midst of an economic downturn and at X-mas time, selling the family pack at a reasonable price made MS look like heroes. Now they just look like Scrooge.

  3. And they wonder why they have problems with piracy? They simply don’t get it. Lower the price of Windows to what it really needs to cost, ie. the price of a Home Premium OEM disk. This is the real cost of Windows, everything else is just greed.
    Microsoft would sell significantly more Windows licenses and need to spend less on anti-piracy (Genuine Disadvantage, anyone?). Consumers feel (and rightly so) that MS is greedy (especially outside of the US, although I can understand that they need to pay EU fines, I live there, unfortunately) so they choose an alternative that is more cost effective. If they feel that they get what they pay for, most people will choose the legal option. And let’s face, MS isn’t really short of money.

  4. Back in early Nov my daughter and I scoured multiple locations in our metro-Houston, TX area city for the MS Windows 7 Family pack.

    All the big-box outlets (Best Buy, Office Depot, etc.) had shell-boxes on the shelving but none in stock. Crazy.

    Looking online I couldn’t find any trustworthy vendors/prices I wanted to surrender my credit-card info to either.

    I was starting to get geek-ily uncomfortable and concerned as I had 3 fairly new laptops I had been running the Win7 RC on quite successfully. Three licenses is a big pill to swallow (on our home budget at least), even for Home Premium Win7.

    As a last ditch, I decided to check in the halls of Redmond itself:

    Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade Family Pack


    In stock, delivered by mail only, and still just $149 plus related tax/shipping costs.

    Ordered it immediately and in about a week was on our doorstep.

    Good thing in light of these findings, and that the Microsoft website now says that product is unavailable now even direct from MS.

    Whew. That was a close one.

    Hope they really reconsider that. Still would be a warm goodwill gesture for consumers if they boosted price to $200 a box/pop.

    –Claus V.

  5. Reminds me of how Nintendo’s website was always “out of stock” whenever I tried to exchange my Nintendo Stars (a then Europe-only reward for buying games/hardware, and fairly useless) for Wii Points (which can buy some old console games I actually wanted).

    An entirely virtual transaction which involves no more than updating a couple of database fields, yet Nintendo managed to be perpetually “sold out” of the items as if there was some physical limitation preventing more being produced. Sigh.

    (That’s on top of other ways Nintendo shafted European customers over the star points things, but that’s another story with less relevance to the Family Pack shenanigans.)

    At least with the retail Family Pack there is a physical product that needs to be made for the retail copies. (Is there a digital version as well? Less excuse for that, if so.) But even so, only making enough for six weeks, not reaching even until Christmas? That’s tighter than a nun’s sewing needle.

  6. The family pack was a special “gift” Microsoft offered its loyal customers. I got two copies for free, of 64 bit Professional, from my school through an agreement with MSDN. I remain a loyal Microsoft customer.

    1. Damon, you’re confused. The early bird discounted pricing on Home Premium and Professional ($49/$99, respectively) offered in July was what Microsoft called its “gift to loyal customers and beta testers.” The Family Pack was never positioned that way,

  7. This is so disheartening especially considering it is totally within their scope to do this. As Ed said, it’s not like it’s a precious metal, or that they have to manufacture each copy by hand or something. Additionally, to ignore the good-will this offer generated among millions of users just seems moronic.

  8. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how Microsoft can come up with good marketing plans, only to trash them through short-sightedness or ineffeciency. I’m not just talking about the Family Pack concept, either — which was both brilliant and natural, given the maturity of the consumer. I’m also thinking about Windows Home Server and the Zune HD, both of which I think are strong products (particularly WHS), but have not received enough marketing respect from MS.

    Maybe MS is just too engineering-focused, and can’t or won’t connect with the average consumer…

  9. Shoot, for $300 the now price of scalped Family Packs, you can get the Action Pack or the Technet subscription and a WHOLE LOT more… Seems MS still is generous, if you know where to look.

  10. Scott, the Action Pack is only for Microsoft partners, and the membership has to be renewed each year or the licenses are no longer valid. TechNet licenses are good for evaluation only, not for everyday use in a home or office. I’m sure people do that, but it’s not what the program is intended for.

  11. You idiots.
    When all the hype of the Family Pack came out it stated very clearly that it was just a promotion: i.e.: Time-limited offer” !
    Whats all the griping now?.

    I bought TWO packs immediately as I knew it would become scarce. I have activated all 3 licences of the one, and the other is for later for some other PCs I am building.

    Microsoft’s idea obviously was to get its sales going as a launch.

  12. Ed
    Saw this at Sam’s (South Florida) yesterday.

    Don’t remember price though.
    Also saw it on Costco web site.

  13. Brilliant get a great deal promoting your OS and then pull the rug out right before Christmas. I wonder how 1 company can go from being so brilliant at executing the pre-release only to screw up the launch. From the upgrade install debacle to this. Way to screw up a great operating system.

  14. My father and I have been discussing the move to Windows 7 for the last month or so. We finally decided to make the move on our computers as well as my a couple we were working on (one we were giving to a cousin, another my sister-in-law’s notebook that had a failed hard drive). We quickly discovered the same thing: that family packs are now extremely difficult to come by.

    So what does that mean? For us, it means instead of moving all the machines to Windows 7, paying Microsoft a fair sum, and ultimately reducing their headaches, some of them are simply going to be staying on XP. Indefinitely. Maybe Forever.

    This is obviously a case when the bean counter side of Microsoft won over the technical side. And the bad will this engenders is worth much more than the few dollars they didn’t get.

  15. Ed
    I agree this is mean spirited especially so close to Christmas. It would not have hurt for Microsoft to extend it to cover the holiday period. At least this offer is now available in Australia although not sure for how long. Cost for the 3 user Home Premium pack is around AUD$240 so I will be grabbing it while its there.

  16. So much for my holiday plans for upgrades. My kids are returning home from college with their Vista notebooks. I was planning on updating them to 7 over the break and then using the third license for my own fairly new XP desktop. That’s not going to happen at $120 a pop.

    For this family it seems like longterm it will be a loss for Microsoft as the kids will probably now be looking for Apple laptops when they graduate as their point of comparison will be Vista and not 7.

  17. Thanks Ed, you made my day as usual.

    Will put our remaining copies on the shelf along with Vista, One Care,Digital Image,Encarta,and all other discontinued product.

    Is it any wonder MS total sales are are a declining number?

  18. So, how come MS didn’t just make this an available download, like they have with some of their other products? Simple, fast, product-code protected, and no scalpers! Or is that simply too “customer-service-oriented” for them? Oh well!

  19. If your kids are in college and have edu email addresses they can pick up Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional 32 bit or 64 bit for 29 dollars for download only ($13 more to have a physical disk sent). Better hurry this is only until Jan 3rd.

  20. Chalk me up as another techie with 4 PCs at home, 3 of which will not be updated to W7. I won one W7 Pro 64x license at my local PC repair shop on launch day so my Vista Machine will be upgraded, but the three XP machines will stay XP now. At $50 each, it was a definite upgrade, but not at $120. Too bad M$.

  21. Microsoft’s decision to drop the family pack probably will cause some ill will; the company, however, isn’t unfamiliar with such a circumstance, and I think it will weather it well. Everyone knew the “sale price” wouldn’t last forever. I think it was meant to induce people to buy now, rather than later. In fact, if I recall correctly, Ed, you bought at least one family pack. As the old saying goes, those who linger will languish.

  22. Bill, good to hear from you again.

    I actually didn’t buy the Family Pack, opting instead for the half-price offer last July (two Home Premium, two Professional). I think the thing that makes this different is that it shouldn’t be thought of as a price cut but rather as a way to fill a distinct consumer need.

  23. Fcuk Microsoft, this is pathetic. I was going to get thefamily pack, but it was always sold out. Now it’s sold out. It’s a dirty marketing ploy, and I just lost a lot of respect for these guys.

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