A judge has questioned the structure of Microsoft's settlement of private antitrust suits, raising concerns that it might unjustifiably benefit the software giant.
US District Judge J. Frederick Motz said the proposed settlement contained "structural biases" that would help Microsoft gain control of one of the few software markets where it faces vigorous competition.
The judge also said he was concerned as to whether the case was ready for settlement as evidence had not been fully developed.
Speaking to Microsoft's deputy general counsel Tom Burt, Judge Motz said: "Why isn't the best solution to just put the entire value of the $1bn settlement into a fund to buy computers and software for the schools?"
Burt replied: "We could make it a cash only deal, but it would deny huge benefits to the schools."
Microsoft and plaintiff attorneys agreed last month on the settlement. The framework was to establish a private foundation with $150m in cash, $100m in matching funds and $160m to be used by the foundation to help the needy schools.
But Apple Computer has complained that the $1bn settlement would boost the adoption of Microsoft products in schools.
"We think a far better settlement is for Microsoft to give their proposed $1bn in cash to an independent foundation, which will provide our most needy schools with the computer technology of their choice," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a statement.
Apple's general counsel Nancy Heinen argued that competition in the education market is already "very robust".
On Friday, Apple argued that many school areas which draw up district-wide technology plans could be undermined by the give away. The company holds nearly half the pre-college educational market.
In its brief, Apple said: "Analysis of data now available from plaintiffs, Microsoft and other sources demonstrates that the settlement will constitute a massive subsidy for the adoption of Microsoft technology, not only in the eligible schools, but throughout school districts and states."
Judge Motz is expected to make a decision on the proposed settlement before the end of the year.
Delays to the roll-out of age verification for adult websites hasn't stopped government from considering extending them to more websites
Bluehole confirms rumours that Playstation 4 port is coming on 7 December
Atmospheric iodine works as a significant sink of tropospheric ozone, nullifying the harmful pollutant
A temperature rise of just 1.8° C would melt major ice sheets