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Microsoft Puts The Kibosh On Windows 7 Promo

The lovefest that's been going on around Windows 7 just had some cold water thrown on it, as Microsoft has halted a cost saving Windows 7 promotion just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Unveiled in October, the $150 Windows 7 Family Pack includes three upgrade licenses and is more than $200 cheaper than buying the individual licenses. At the time, Microsoft said the Windows 7 Family Pack would be a limited-time offer, but didn't specify when the offer would end. Now, roughly six weeks after the Windows 7 launch, Microsoft and major online retailers are now showing the Windows 7 Family Pack as sold out.

"Thank you for your interest in Windows 7. The Windows 7 Family Pack is now sold out through many of our partners. Please check our other offers," reads a notice on Microsoft's Web site that had previously offered information on the promotion.

Meanwhile, smaller retailers and auctioneers have jacked up the price of the Windows 7 Family Pack in reaction to the constrained supply. Three Amazon.com partners currently have it listed for $279, while bids on eBay -- a notoriously risky place to buy Microsoft software due to the large amount of pirated software sold there -- have climbed as high at $251.

Unsurprisingly, the timing is fueling speculation that Microsoft is trying to maximize revenue from holiday season sales of Windows 7. Since software is a virtually infinite resource, many consumers are wondering why Microsoft couldn't have just increased Windows 7 Family Pack supply to avoid a holiday season shortage.

There's plenty of evidence to suggest Microsoft's timing wasn't an accident. In a discussion on About.com's Windows page, one community member claims Microsoft stopped selling the Family Pack through its online store on Nov. 26. Folks are also venting their spleen in comments posted in non-Windows related posts to Microsoft's Windows blog.

"Talking about availability and supplies is nonsense," wrote one poster. "It was available for download. Microsoft *chose* to discontinue it in the U.S. immediately prior to Black Friday, just in time for the holidays. This decision reflects how Microsoft values its home users."

Windows 7's launch couldn't have gone any smoother, but this issue is blowing up quickly and Microsoft will have to move quickly to contain the damage, because this is definitely not the time of year for any company to be generating ill will amongst existing and potential customers.

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