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Microsoft buys off litigants

Microsoft looks set to emerge relatively unscathed from its antitrust battles in the US after it brokered an unusual deal with...

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Microsoft looks set to emerge relatively unscathed from its antitrust battles in the US after it brokered an unusual deal with nine of the states pressing suits against the company.

Microsoft has agreed to pay about $500m (£354m) over five years to provide software and computers to the poorest schools in the US, including grants, training and technical support, subject to approval by a federal judge. This is equivalent to 1.4% of the company's annual net profit in each of the years it will run.

In human terms it would be like an average earner on £17,500 gross being fined a tax-deductible £180 a year. The settlement will avoid a long and costly battle to settle cases individually but, with only nine of 18 states agreeing, the company is not out of the woods yet.

EU competition commissioner Mario Monti has requested a meeting with the company as part of investigations into possible abuses of its market dominance.

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