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Microsoft settles Montana suit

The software giant will pay $12.3 million in vouchers to settle a suit brought by consumers who claimed the company violated the state's antitrust laws. Fifteen similar suits remain.

Microsoft on Monday said it will pay $12.3 million in vouchers to settle a class-action suit brought by Montana consumers who claimed the company violated the state's antitrust laws.

Microsoft will issue the vouchers to Montana customers who purchased its operating system, productivity suite, spreadsheet or word processing software over a four-year period ending August 2002. The $5 to $12 vouchers can be used to purchase computer hardware or software from any manufacturer. Microsoft also will donate half of the unclaimed settlement proceeds to Montana schools.

The software maker now has 15 similar class-action lawsuits outstanding in various states and the District of Columbia. Microsoft earlier this year reached a whopping $1.1 billion settlement with California and a $202 million settlement with Florida.

The lawsuits were largely based on claims that Microsoft used its Windows monopoly to overcharge consumers on various products.

Although it's difficult to predict if and when the company will reach a settlement with the other states and Washington, D.C., Jim Desler, a Microsoft spokesman, said the software giant is reviewing reasonable ways to resolve the litigation.

The Montana class-action suit was originally filed in March 2000 in Montana First District Court in Lewis and Clark County.