Windows 7 Family Pack available for pre-order early online

The special upgrade for households with more than one PC was not meant to be available for pre-order until Oct. 18

A special Windows 7 upgrade package for households with more than one PC is now available for pre-order online ahead of schedule and at a discount from Microsoft's previously announced price.

Windows 7 Family Pack, which offers the ability to upgrade from an existing version of Windows to Windows 7 on three PCs for a discounted price, is available for pre-order on several online retailer Web sites, including eCOST.com and Provantage, for $US146.99 and $US140.31, respectively.

Microsoft previously said the limited-time offer, which is available until supplies last, would be available for pre-order for $US149.99 on Oct. 18 and then generally available on Oct. 22, the official worldwide release date of Windows 7.

The Family Pack allows users to install Windows 7 Home Premium for a reduced price on up to three PCs in a household that already has a version of Windows installed.

Microsoft originally said Family Pack would only be available in North America.

However, earlier this week the company extended its release to eight countries in Europe -- U.K., Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden -- because of its decision to release Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 8 installed in those countries.

Previously, Microsoft had said it would offer a Windows 7 E version of the OS without IE 8 as a remedy stemming from the European Commission's antitrust suit against the company.

The company recently changed its mind and said it would pre-install IE8 on Windows 7 in Europe but give customers a ballot-screen allowing them to choose to install a competing browser if they like.

Windows 7 E was not going to have a browser, so a user would have to do a clean install of the new OS rather than upgrade from a previous version of Windows to ensure no browser was installed during the process.

Both upgrades and full versions of Windows 7 have been available for pre-order on Amazon.com since July.

(Agam Shah in San Francisco contributed to this report.)

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