Court voids Microsoft claims through Lindows site

A San Francisco court has ordered the administrator in a $1.1bn California class-action settlement against Microsoft to reject...

A San Francisco court has ordered the administrator in a $1.1bn California class-action settlement against Microsoft to reject claims filed through MSfreePC.com, a website run by Linux vendor Lindows.com.

The court also ordered the administrator to include a statement on the official settlement website telling the public that claims filed through MSfreePC are invalid. Telephone customer service representatives for the administrator are to be instructed to tell callers the same, according to a copy of the order on Microsoft's website.

The administrator, Rust Consulting, also was ordered to obtain from Lindows.com the names and addresses of people who used the MSfreePC site and send those claimants an official claim form.

last month, Microsoft had asked the court to bar Lindows.com from taking in settlement claims. Claims filed through the MSfreePC website do not comply with the settlement or the claims procedures, Microsoft said.

Lindows.com launched MSfreePC.com in September as a way for California software buyers to get a piece of the settlement. The site is no longer taking in claims. It offered Lindows software and Sun Microsystems StarOffice suite in exchange for a claim and the vouchers that certain software buyers are entitled to under the settlement.

Lindows.com claimed around 15,000 people used the MSfreePC service. Those who took advantage of the software offer can keep the software even though their claims will not be processed via the MSfreePC site.

Under the settlement announced in January 2003, those who bought Microsoft's operating system or productivity software for use in California between 18 February 1995, and 15 Decmber 2001, can get vouchers worth between $5 and $29 depending on the product bought.

The class-action lawsuit accused Microsoft of overcharging for its software. Microsoft has settled several similar suits in various US states.

The official website for the California settlement is at http://www.microsoftcalsettlement.com/.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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