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Microsoft Corp. agreed Wednesday to pay Iowans up to $180 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company had a monopoly that cost the state's citizens millions of dollars extra for software products.

The $179.95 million settlement means individuals in Iowa who bought certain Microsoft products separately or preinstalled on computers between May 18, 1994, and June 30, 2006, will be eligible for cash. Government agencies and companies with multiple copies purchased between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2006, can seek vouchers that will enable them to buy computer equipment and software. The amount that can be claimed will depend on which product and how many copies were purchased.

For each copy of Microsoft Windows or MS-DOS, customers can claim $16. Microsoft Excel is worth $25 a copy and Microsoft Office, $29 a copy.

For Word, Works and Home Essential software, consumers can claim $10 a copy, according to the agreement.

No proof of purchase will be required for online claims of up to $100 or for mail claims of up to $200. Claimants will be required to sign a legal document saying their claim is accurate. Lying can bring a charge of perjury.

Notification will be sent to the estimated 1 million class members on April 25, the date when they can begin claiming money. The claim period ends Dec. 14.


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