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Windows 7 Family Pack available for pre-order early online

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 one 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 $146.99 and $140.31, respectively.

Microsoft previously said the limited-time offer, which is available until supplies last, would be available for pre-order for $149.99 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.

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