Microsoft Clears Antitrust Hurdle in Iowa

The latest status report on Microsoft's compliance with an antitrust settlement in the United States has cleared the company of a separate accusation of not complying with orders to disclose information to make its products more interoperable.

An expert witness in a class-action suit filed in Iowa, Comes v. Microsoft, testified that the company had not documented application programming interfaces (APIs) as required by the 2002 settlement with the Justice Department and states.

The plaintiffs from the 2002 settlement met with the expert witness in the Iowa case and examined material, concluding that "there is no evidence that Microsoft has not fully disclosed the APIs."

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The conclusion was tucked away in the report, published on Tuesday, by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which monitors Microsoft's compliance with the settlement.

Microsoft reached a settlement in February in the Comes case, filed in Polk County District Court, after plaintiffs argued the company overcharged them for software.

In April, a judge gave preliminary approval to a settlement that calls for Microsoft to pay up to US$179.95 million to individual users and businesses that bought Microsoft software between May 18, 1994, and June 30, 2006. The case is due for a final review on Aug. 31.

If approved, eligible Iowans will be able to receive $16 for OSes, $29 for Office, $25 for Excel and $10 for Word. Individual users will get cash, while volume buyers will get vouchers for products from Microsoft, its competitors and others.

Microsoft estimates the cost of the Iowa settlement, as well as settlements reached with Arkansas and Wisconsin in March, plus an outstanding case in Mississippi, could cost the company between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion, according to an April 26 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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