Microsoft and North Dakota Plaintiffs Settle North Dakota Class Action Lawsuit

GRAND FORKS, North Dakota, and REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 19, 2003 — The law firms of Heins, Mills & Olson PLC and Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach LLP, counsel for a proposed class of North Dakota consumers, and Microsoft Corp. jointly announced today that a settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit alleging that Microsoft Corp. violated North Dakota’s antitrust and unfair competition laws.

The settlement, which received preliminary approval on Wednesday from the District Court for the County of Grand Forks, North Dakota, will make vouchers available to class members that may be used to buy any manufacturer’s desktop, laptop and tablet computers; any software available for sale to the general public and used with those computer products; and specified peripheral devices for use with computers. The total amount of vouchers issued will depend on the number of class members who claims vouchers, and the maximum value of the vouchers that may be issued to class members will be $9 million.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Microsoft will provide one-half of the difference between $9 million and the value of vouchers issued to class members to North Dakota’s public school districts in the form of vouchers that may be used by the school districts to purchase a broad range of hardware products, Microsoft®
and non-Microsoft software, and professional development services. The vouchers will be made available to public school districts in which 50 percent or more of the students are eligible for reduced-fee or free meals under the National School Lunch Program.

Approximately 43 of North Dakota’s 201 school districts will be eligible to receive assistance.

“We’re pleased with the judges decision, and think it’s a great settlement for the class and for needy North Dakota schools,” said Vince Esades, attorney for the plaintiffs. “We’re pleased that the case now moves forward to final resolution.”

North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne Sanstead expressed his support of the court’s adoption of the settlement proposed by the parties. “This settlement will be of benefit to North Dakota schools and the children who attend them.”

“We’re pleased by the opportunity to help schools all across North Dakota get the computers and software they need,” said Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft. “This settlement allows us to focus on the future and building great software, and avoids the cost and uncertainty of litigation.”

Details of the settlement are set forth in a settlement agreement filed in the District Court for the County of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Under the settlement, consumers who, between May 18, 1994, and Dec. 31, 2002, resided in North Dakota and indirectly purchased certain Microsoft operating system, productivity suite, spreadsheet or word processing software for use in North Dakota and not for resale will be eligible to apply for the vouchers.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.