We don’t usually write technology articles here, but with the Windows 7 hoopla many people are rushing out to buy upgrades and are paying more than necessary. This is especially the case for households that have more than one computer and/or have university students.
Family Pack Upgrade for 3 PCs For Under $150
While the list price for the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade for a single PC is $120, it’s easily possible to get licenses for 3 PCs in the same home for just a little more than that. Costco is selling 3 PC upgrades “for a limited time, until supplies run out” for $135. It’s also available from many other vendors, too, but they are usually a little more expensive, perhaps $150. Staples is selling it for $150, and if you find one of their $30 off $150 coupons, it can be a little less expensive there.
Upgrades for College/University Students for $29.95!
Ed Bott’s article Seven perfectly legal ways to get Windows 7 cheap (or even free)  outlines a number of other ways to get big discounts on Windows 7, particularly for college students and IT professionals. One of the best is the $29.95 upgrade offer for a digital download of either Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional  for currently enrolled college students. The offer expires on January 3, 2010.
Buy a New PC With Windows 7, Get Upgrade for 50% Off
Through January 2, 2010, an offer that likely applies to most folks thinking of buying a new PC plus upgrading an old one is this buy a new PC with Windows 7 installed, get Windows 7 (any version) for up to 50% off  offer from Microsoft and a variety of retail partners. These include Costco and Amazon.com . The new PC you buy must come with Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate for this offer to apply. If you buy one and then upgrade your main PC to Windows 7 Ultimate (which has the “remote desktop” feature) on the offer described above, you’d save $80 to $100 versus the typical cost of that upgrade, a nice chunk of the price of a new notebook computer.
Check Details on Box, Not All PCs Come With Windows 7 Yet
Not all PCs sold today are coming with Windows 7 yet, so be sure to look at the details of which operating system it ships with. Windows 7 is reputed to be about as fast as Windows XP and much faster than Vista, especially on low-end hardware like netbooks. Netbooks are particularly hard to find with Windows 7 at the moment, when you do find one you’ll likely get Windows 7 Starter on it. Two well-reviewed netbooks now including it are:
- ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA-PU17-BU 10.1-Inch Blue Netbook 
- Acer AOD250 Series 10.1-Inch Netbook 
Both are pretty similar with Atom N280 1.66GHz processors, 1GB RAM (expandable to 2GB) at 667MHz (rather than 533MHz on older netbooks), 250GB 5400 rpm hard drives, 10.1″ LED backlight 1024×600 screens, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 (especially helpful for using your cell phone to let your netbook get to the Internet), weigh about 2.8 pounds, and realistically get a full day (8+ hours) of usage on a battery charge. Both are available in alternative colors in case you’d prefer something other than the typical black. The reviews of them on Amazon.com are pretty helpful. The Acer model is usually around $360 and the ASUS about $380.
From personal experience, it’s nice to have a small light PC to carry around to take notes, write articles, or other light computing tasks while out and about or on a long drive, in the passenger seat of course. My notebook PC unfortunately has Vista on it, so seems pretty sluggish and only gets about 2 to 3 hours of run time. A netbook designed for long battery run times would be really nice and might make a good Christmas gift for your child or yourself this year. Unfortunately, the “buy one get an upgrade at 50% off” doesn’t apply to new PCs with Windows 7 Starter on them.
More Help on Figuring Out Which Windows 7 Is Right for You
Figuring out which version of Windows 7 to get might be confusing as it is available in Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions. There’s a very good comparison chart and more information available on Wikipedia’s Windows 7 Editions  page.