Microsoft has announced the details of its Windows Anytime Upgrade option for Windows 7, as well as news of a Windows 7 Family Pack.

With the netbook market an influential factor, the Windows Anytime Upgrade scheme sees Microsoft offering consumers a way to upgrade their OS to the next version up of Windows 7, so someone with Windows 7 Starter on their netbook might want to upgrade (although surely only some hardware will support more sophisticated versions of the OS?). Microsoft explains:

"Some people who purchase a small notebook PC with Windows 7 Starter may find that over time they want to have more scope for personalisation and more entertainment features, as well as the more sophisticated functionality (such as XP virtualisation and Domain Join) that they have on their main PC at home. WAU allows them to upgrade to Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate with ease".

Making the leap from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at £69.99. Starter to Professional is £119.99. Starter to Ultimate is £139.99. Home Premium to Professional is £119.99, Home Premium to Ultimate £124.99 and Professional to Ultimate is £84.99.

In addition, the company has confirmed it is to offer a Windows 7 Family Pack that will let consumers install the same copy of Windows 7 Home Premium on three different PCs. It will be available in the US and Canada - but not in the UK.

The reason for this is down to the well-publicised EU ruling that, for antitrust reasons, from now on will not allow Microsoft to bundle Internet Explorer along with the new OS. As the family pack is a "upgrade SKU" so can't be offered without IE, Microsoft is sticking to its guns and not even attempting to offer a lower-priced work around for UK- and EU-based consumers.

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