Microsoft has reached agreement in a class-action case alleging violation of Arizona's antitrust laws, offering the state's consumers £104m in computer vouchers.
The terms of the settlement will require Microsoft to make vouchers available to all non-government purchasers of its application and operating system products.
The vouchers may be used to purchase new software, hardware and other computer-related products of any company, including those of Microsoft's competitors.
Arizona consumers will receive voucher values that are the second largest of any state: $15 for operating systems and $9 for applications.
With the exception of California, other states that brought similar antitrust action against Microsoft and that have disclosed their settlement terms to date have received values of $12 for operating systems and $5 for applications.
The total maximum value of Arizona's vouchers is $104.6m. A key term of the settlement, similar to other Microsoft antitrust agreements, is its provision that Arizona public schools should benefit.
To the extent that Arizona businesses or individual consumers choose not to apply for or redeem the vouchers, the state's public schools may obtain 50 per cent of unclaimed vouchers and, later, 50 per cent of unredeemed vouchers.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael O'Melia gave the deal preliminary approval for the years 1996 to 2002. The class-action case was brought by Brian Goodwin, Marty Harper, Lori Berke and Kelly Flood of the Phoenix office of law firm Shughart Thomson & Kilroy.
"As a result of Judge O'Melia's action today, the entire class of Arizona consumers will be given notice of the settlement terms and we will seek final approval later this year," said Harper, a lead attorney at Shughart Thomson & Kilroy, in a statement.
Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, added in a statement: "The novel approach we've taken in structuring this settlement has not only allowed us to resolve this legal matter, but provide needed benefits to students at the same time."
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