Microsoft Settles Class-Action Suit In Florida

The vendor will provide more than $200 million in vouchers for people to buy computers and related products
MIAMI (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. settled a class action lawsuit with Florida residents Tuesday, providing up to $202 million in vouchers for people to buy computers and related products. Half of any unclaimed vouchers will be given to Florida public schools, the company said.

The settlement resolved a lawsuit filed in state circuit court in Miami claiming Microsoft violated a state law against unfair trade practices in the manner it sold operating system and applications software.

Class action participants who purchased the Microsoft operating system, productivity suite, spreadsheet or word processing software between Nov. 16, 1995, and Dec. 31, 2002, will be eligible for vouchers to purchase computer hardware and software from any manufacturer.

Half of the total value of any unclaimed vouchers will be given to Florida's most needy public schools, Microsoft said in a statement. The company didn't say when the vouchers would expire if not used.

Bill Piotrowski, executive director of technology and information services for Leon District Schools in Tallahassee, Fla., said the settlement was "great news for schools all across Florida.

"Given the tough budget environment, the timing is particularly helpful," he said in a statement. ":This program will provide badly needed resources for the schools that need it most and help bridge the digital divide for those students."

The court has set a hearing for Nov. 24 for final approval of the settlement.

Last year, Microsoft lost its bid to settle dozens of private antitrust lawsuits by donating $1 billion worth of computers and software to the nation's poorest public schools.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Baltimore ruled that the proposal was unacceptable because it would give the software giant an unfair advantage over rival Apple Computer Inc.

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