This week in Australia, Microsoft began shipping a limited pilot version of its Windows 7 Family Pack, which provides for three upgrade installations of Windows 7 Home Premium for one low price. The Australian release of the Family Pack is more than a bit late—Microsoft first delivered the bargain package in other locales about a month and a half ago—but at least it's still available. Here in the United States, the Windows 7 Family Pack has apparently sold out.
That's all by design, sadly. When Microsoft first briefed me about the Family Pack back in July, I was told that it would be a limited-time offer "until supplies last" (sic) in the United States and "other select markets." (These markets eventually included Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.) I communicated Microsoft plans for the Family Pack in various articles over the next few months, noting that it was a temporary offer only.
Unfortunately, that's just now becoming obvious to potential customers here in the United States, where the Family Pack has apparently completely disappeared. Numerous email messages this week complain that attempts to find the Windows 7 Family Pack online or at brick-and-mortar electronics retailers have proven fruitless, killing plans for planned holiday presents.
A quick online investigation reveals some opportunistic pricing for the Family Pack, which normally sells for $150 in the United States. Amazon.com, Buy.com, and Newegg.com are all sold out, but various mom-and-pop partners of the sites are offering the package for $250 to $290.
When I was briefed about the Windows 7 Family Pack in July, I told Microsoft that it was about five years behind Apple in delivering a multi-PC offering for its OS and asked whether the company would consider making the Family Pack a permanent part of its Windows 7 product lineup. The response I got was that the software giant would consider doing so based on feedback and response to the temporary offer.
Microsoft hasn't officially mentioned the Family Pack since a blog post on the day of the Windows 7 launch in October. If you're upset that the company has strategically made this product unavailable just in time for the holidays, I recommend leaving some feedback on the Windows 7 Team Blog. Microsoft has heavily promoted how feedback-focused they are with Windows 7, so I'm sure they'd love to hear from you