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New York likely to approve settlement

Microsoft must cough up £200m

A New York Supreme Court judge has tentatively approved a deal that would order Microsoft to pay up to $350m (about £200m) to settle a class-action lawsuit with residents of New York state who purchased software from the company between 1994 and 2004.

Supreme Court Judge Karla Moskowitz is expected to give final approval to the settlement at a hearing on 13 June, according to a site that tracks the proceedings. The case is one of a number filed in various states against the software vendor.

Those who bought computers between 18 May 1994 and 31 December 2004 running certain versions of Microsoft Windows software can receive $12 (£7) vouchers from Microsoft that can be redeemed to buy additional versions of Windows, according to court documents.

Claims for $5 (£3) vouchers for each software product purchased can also be made for packaged software such as Microsoft Office, Excel or Word. Those vouchers, too, can be used to purchase additional Microsoft software.

The claim forms can be found on the settlement site. There are separate forms for those who bought computers in retail stores, by mail or over the internet, and for customers who purchased through Microsoft's volume-licensing programmes. To benefit from the settlement, New York residents must fill out and send in a claim form by 18 October 2006, according to the site.

The New York case is the 15th and latest among a series of state-specific class-action suits against the software vendor to be settled in the years following the formal proceedings in the US Department of Justice's antitrust case against Microsoft.

The company has agreed to give out vouchers to consumers to settle claims that it illegally used its monopoly to overcharge users for Windows and other software, but to date has not admitted to any illegal activity.

Microsoft has also settled class-action suits in Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Microsoft could not be reached immediately for comment yesterday.

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