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New Microsoft EULA fine print nixes class action

Microsoft is changing its end-user license for unspecified consumer software and hardware products to eliminate users' ability to engage in class-action lawsuits.

Microsoft is rolling out a change to its end-user license agreements for its consumer products that eliminates U.S. users' ability to engage in class-action lawsuits involving its products.

The tech titan announced the coming modification in a blog post on Friday, May 25, the day before the Memorial Day long weekend in the U.S.

"When a customer in the United States has a dispute about a Microsoft product or service, many of our new user agreements will require that, if we can't informally resolve the dispute, the customer bring the claim in small claims court or arbitration, but not as part of a class action lawsuit," explained the post on the "Microsoft on the Issues" blog by Microsoft Assistant General Counsel Tim Fielden.

In the post, Fielden said that "many companies have adopted this approach," which was permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case from 2011. He also noted that Microsoft made this change in its terms of use for Xbox Live several months ago. (On GeekWire, Todd Bishop notes that the four big U.S. wireless carriers all have implemented the same approach in their license agreements.)

Fielden's post doesn't name specific products for which Microsoft will be adding the change "in the coming months" as it rolls out "major licensing, hardware or software releases and updates."

Microsoft's new policies provide the company with "powerful incentives" to resolve disputes to customers' satisfaction before they get to the arbitration standpoint, Fielden said. Once a dispute does get to that point, Microsoft will pay the greater award or $1,000 for "most" products and services, plus double the customer's "reasonable attorney fees" if Microsoft offers less to resolve a dispute informally than an arbitrator awards officially.

The post also notes that Microsoft has a 45-day refund policy for "certain Microsoft software or hardware purchased from a retailer which provides for a full refund and reimbursement of shipping costs of up to $7."