Microsoft settles embarrassing antitrust suit in Iowa

“Microsoft Corp. today said it has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit in Iowa that, during its trial phase, had resulted in the unearthing of numerous internal documents and e-mails that were embarrassing to the company,” Eric Lai reports for Computerworld.

Lai reports, “Plaintiffs in the case, known as Comes. vs. Microsoft Corp., had sought as much as $330 million in damages to compensate Microsoft users in Iowa who allegedly were overcharged for software as a result of anticompetitive practices by the company. The terms of the settlement aren’t being disclosed pending preliminary approval of the deal by the Iowa state-court judge who is overseeing the case. A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for April 20, according to Microsoft and attorneys for the plaintiffs.”

Lai reports, “The trial, which began in early December, was a treasure trove of cringeworthy comments and messages from Microsoft employees. The documents entered as evidence included a 2004 internal e-mail in which Jim Allchin, then Microsoft’s Windows development chief, complained about the progress of Windows Vista and said that he would buy a Macintosh if he wasn’t a Microsoft employee.”

“The plaintiffs in the Iowa case also publicized the transcript of a 1996 speech by a Microsoft technical evangelist, who referred to independent software developers as ‘pawns’ and compared wooing them to write applications for Windows and the company’s other software platforms with convincing someone to have a one-night stand,” Lai reports.

Lai reports, “Half of any unclaimed proceeds will go to the Iowa Department of Education to fund purchases of computer hardware and software for schools in the state.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, the Iowa Department of Education will take Microsoft’s Windows development chief Jim Allchin’s advice and use the money to buy Apple Macs and Mac software for their schools. In fact, the settlement should stipulate just such a computer hardware and software purchase requirement.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Windows honcho Allchin retires from Microsoft on Vista launch day; now free to buy his Mac – February 01, 2007
Windows chief Allchin 2004 email: I’d buy a Mac if I didn’t work for Microsoft – December 11, 2006

26 Comments

  1. “the unearthing of numerous internal documents and e-mails that were embarrassing to the company”

    Microsoft sets a dangerous precedent by settling this action. Stand by for new class actions and more embarrassing revelations…

    THE CHICKENS ARE COMING HOME TO ROOST…

  2. Apparently, one aspect of the settlement is the web site which contained the evidence entered into the public record has now been password protected. Ballmer must have gone thru a semi-trailer load of new chairs before telling them to cut their losses on that fiasco! Pity.

  3. As far as legal fees goes it may have been much cheaper for MS to settle than to continue to battle this in court. Lawyers are not cheap and I doubt that MS hired the law firm that costs the least. A Penny saved is a penny earned. Or a penny earned comes from using monopolistic practices to stop competition in the market. Take your pick.

  4. Sadly, no matter what, Monopolysoft is going to continue to dominate the average computer users entire computing experience (for the worse) for many years to come.

    That’s benefit of having a well leveraged Monopoly.
    You get to be the world’s richest man, then after you do you get to try to improve your image by giving away some of the ill gotten gains that you could never in a lifetime spend yourself anyway.

  5. I’d like to see some of these cases go to court or at the minimum publish the settlement terms. Clearly the system is not working, not reining in Microsoft’s bad practices.

    MS has been involved in hundreds of cases the vast majority of which have been settled on confidential terms. Obviously MS believes that they benefit from confidential settlements and I don’t see how they can always be mutually beneficial to both parties. My assumption is that in so doing MS’s dirty tricks are less exposed so they can continue to rip people off and force them to go through legal action to get any redress.

  6. FROM YAHOO NEWS:

    “In the Minnesota case, the lawyers sought more than $300 million from the company. During trial, the case settled for $174.5 million. Lawyer fees were about $59.4 million, according to court documents. The six plaintiffs who brought the case forward received $5,000 each”

    Lawyer fees of 59.4 million!! 5,000 for the plaintiffs? I don’t think that is fair.

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