Microsoft Corp. has settled another U.S. state class-action, this time with Arizona, generating its second-biggest payout so far -- US$104.6 million.
The money comes, as previously, in the form of vouchers which have to be applied for and which can be used to buy any company's computers, any generally available software and certain peripherals.
Those that bought certain Microsoft products over a seven-year timeframe (January 1996 to January 2002) are entitled to a $15 voucher for a Windows purchase and a $9 voucher for an application purchase -- Word or Excel typically.
The settlement, given preliminary approval by Judge Michael O'Melia Monday, covers 7.8 million software licences. Part of the deal however is that half of any money not claimed will go to Arizona public (state) schools, as well as half the value of any vouchers that are claimed but not redeemed.
It is one of many settlements Microsoft has reached with U.S. states for alleged abuse of its monopoly position in the operating system market, including Minnesota, California, Tennessee, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas. Still outstanding are lawsuits in New Mexico, Iowa, Nebraska, Vermont and Massachusetts. And appeals against declined lawsuits are ongoing in New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.
As with the other settlements, Microsoft is entitled to declare no wrongdoing, so saving it from potentially millions of lawsuits. The private state cases followed a federal finding that Microsoft had abused its position to the detriment of consumers.
The $104.6 million is the second largest settlement so far, following the massive $1.1 billion deal it struck with California (which has its own claim website) in January 2003.
Final approval of the Arizona settlement will happen on 10 December and from that point, people will have 120 days to state their claim.