put more of its legal troubles to rest
this week by settling class action suits with Arizona and Massachusetts.
Redmond latest settlement involved a class action lawsuit
alleging that Microsoft had violated Arizona’s antitrust and unfair
competition laws. The settlement, approved by a court on June 28, 2004,
requires Microsoft to administer a $104.6 million voucher program for software similar
to programs already in place in other states. Members of the class — anyone who
lived in Arizona and bought Microsoft’s operating system, productivity suite,
spreadsheet or word processing software during a certain time frame — can use the vouchers toward
purchase of hardware and software.
If members of the class don’t use up the entire $104.6 million, Microsoft
will split the difference, pocketing half and giving the other half to
public school districts in the state with a preponderance of lower-income
students. The schools will get the money in the form of more vouchers.
The Massachusetts settlement followed the same model, with the total hit
to Microsoft capped at $34 million.
The exact value of individual vouchers in the two most recent suits
wasn’t disclosed. As a result of a similar suit in California, consumers got vouchers worth from $5 to $29 toward hardware or software.