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7 great ways to get Windows 7 cheap (or even free!)

Windows 7

Here at Download Squad, we like saving money. We love finding freebies, and we're certainly not ashamed to walk up to the cash register with a fistful of coupons. Since the announcement of the Windows 7 pricing scheme, we've been looking for ways to cut the costs to make the move.

We've compiled a list of seven ways you can get that Windows 7 goodness without shelling out quite as many bucks. Read on for savings!

Windows 7 Family Pack
$149.99 for 3 Home Premium Upgrade Licenses

Since Windows Vista was released, the public has screamed for a Mac OS X-style family pack of Windows licenses for their homes. At the end of July, Microsoft made our wish their command. The Family Pack isn't available for pre-order yet, but it's expected to become available on October 22nd.

Total savings: $209.98, or about $70 per license.

Attend a free Microsoft seminar
Free Professional license

Microsoft loves handing things out at seminars. This time, their nationwide The New Efficiency campaign and events come bundled with a free license for Windows 7 Professional. The events are also free to register for; the only cost to you is the travel requirements to get to the seminar. Unfortunately, some cities' events have already filled up, and are no longer open for registration. If you're one of the lucky ones near an open event, jump on this while you can.

Total savings: $299.99

MSDN Academic Alliance Program
Free licenses of some sort (update: Windows 7 Professional license)

MSDN Academic Alliance is a program Microsoft offers to colleges and high schools to provide their students with access to popular design and development software, along with other products such as Windows. If you attend college or high school, talk to the appropriate highers-up about getting access to MSDN AA to take advantage of it. MSDN AA has historically provided professional/business-style versions of Windows for students; Windows 7 is not yet available on AA, but if Microsoft follows their own practices, it'll be there sooner or later. Update: According to commenter Trav, Windows 7 Professional is already available via MSDN AA.

Total savings: not sure yet. $299.99

Windows discount program for college students
Free Home Premium or Professional license

For students that aren't lucky enough to have access to an MSDN AA partnership, Microsoft has announced a promotion for college students that will allow them to get a Windows 7 license for cheap. Either a Home Premium or Professional full license is available for just $29.99. There don't appear to be any strings attached to the licenses; the site FAQ states that they're no different than retail, off-the-shelf copies of Windows. All you need is a valid email address at a college or other recognized educational institute.

Total savings: $170 for Home Premium, or $270 for Professional.

Free Enterprise Trial
90-day Enterprise trial license

Nothing out of the ordinary here; Microsoft has always been pretty good about letting users try before they buy. In this case, Microsoft wants large organizations to try Windows 7 Enterprise before they buy it. They've made a 90-day trial available to the public through March, 2010. While this trial is oriented toward enterprise customers, even the usual home user can download this trial to get a taste of Windows 7 before it's available to the public.

Total savings: well, nothing in the long run. But you get to try it before you buy it, if you so desire.

MSDN Subscription or Technet Plus Subscription
Free licenses for everything, sort of

If your company specializes in software development or IT management, chances are, they have an MSDN or TechNet subscription with Microsoft. If that's the case, your organization gets free licenses to darn near everything Microsoft puts out. However, there's a string attached; the licenses are essentially only for development and testing use. That means you can install Windows 7 to test your product on it, or see how easily it'll be to roll out to your corporate network, but you can't take a license home with you for personal use.

Total savings: lots, since you get licenses for all versions of Windows with your subscription.

Follow Windows on Twitter
Occasional promotions

Microsoft has been utilizing social media more and more since the development of Windows 7 became public; they, just like many other software companies, are using Twitter to get their message out, as well as bribing folks like you and me to follow them in return for the breaking news on new software promotions.

Total savings: your guess is as good as ours; follow @MSWindows and see what happens!

Tags: academic alliance, AcademicAlliance, family pack, FamilyPack, free windows, FreeWindows, microsoft, msdn, technet, twitter, windows, windows 7, Windows7

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