Attorneys today announced a settlement in the state’s case against computer giant Microsoft. The state sued alleging that Microsoft illegally overcharged for its software by keeping customers from having a choice of other software from 1994 through 2006.
The terms of the settlement were not released pending final court approval which is expected in April. Information that was released on the settlement says Microsoft will provide half of any unclaimed proceeds to the Iowa Department of Education to help schools purchase computer hardware and software.
Roxanne Conlin, lead attorney for the state’s case says: "We’re very pleased, we think that this is an excellent settlement for consumers of Iowa, and that it will also be helpful to Iowa schools. And that was an important feature for us." Conlin says the early settlement wasn’t expected.
Conlin says they were "very surprised" and says every lawyer probably thought the trial would go to verdict. Conlin says they continued talking and were able to come to the agreement. Conlin says the money to help schools buy computers will help bridge the digital and technical divide in Iowa schools. Conlin says Iowa has great schools, but it’s important that every child who graduates has the technological skills needed for today’s technological world.
Rich Wallis represented Microsoft in the case. Wallis says, "We’re pleased… to be able to put these old cases behind us so that we can focus on the future and the next generations of our products and innovations that we hope will enrich the lives of the people in Iowa and around the world." Wallis says the settlement doesn’t indicate Microsoft lawyers thought they would lose the case.
"No…We have consistently demonstrated that we were prepared to settle these cases on reasonable terms, and when the opportunity to do so in this case finally came around, we were willing to do it," Wallis says. Wallis says the settlement made the best sense for the company. Wallis says the realities of the corporate world come done to economics, and if you can reasonably settle a case, you do so.
The court will consider the joint motion for preliminary approval of the settlement on April 20. Iowans who bought Microsoft operating systems including MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows for Workgroups, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000, and Windows XP are covered in the settlement.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates had been scheduled to come to Des Moines later this year to testify in the case.