Petition to Plaintiffs of Microsoft Civil Suit

by Richard Vernon

Stephan Adler has posted a petition to the plaintiffs in the civil antitrust case against Microsoft on his web site. Based on the proposed settlement between Microsoft and the numerous plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, the company will pay a bit over $1 billion to some of the poorest elementary, middle, junior high and high schools in the country (and US territories). The schools must have at least 70% of their attending students eligible to receive free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program to qualify as recipients.

It is estimated that the majority of this money will be in software and services, valued at whatever Microsoft values it, leaving very little for hardware. Red Hat came up with an alternative proposal that would end up benefiting many more schools by providing free software and services, thereby leaving the full $1 billion for hardware. This would increase the number of systems purchased to more than one million from 200,000.

The settlement seems counter-productive as a punitive measure, as it leaves Microsoft in control of how the money is spent and leads ultimately to conditions that further discourage competition by giving these schools no option concerning what software they use.

This point is one of the complaints made in the petition. The goals of the petition are to influence the settlement in such a way as to allow the possibility of including non-Microsoft products in the award to the schools, to bring the attention of the public to the issue, and to help Judge Fredrick Motz see the injustice of the settlement.

The petition currently has 1,464 signatures.

Richard Vernon is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

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