It looks like Microsoft is managing to settle State lawsuits one at a time. (See http://www.itworld.com/Man/2699/040629msarizona/ and more). Arizona is the 12th state to settle, and Microsoft will provide $104 million in vouchers to customer who were “overcharged” for Windows and Office in between 1996 and 2002. These settlements have already cost Microsoft more than $1.5 billion, and that number is likely to increase.
I am not going to get into a discussion about capitalism, and a debate on who gets to decide what price is right and what is too much. That is neither here nor there at this point.
What really bugs me is the perception of value, or the total lack thereof. Regardless of how anyone feels about Microsoft, this “overcharged” accusation is simply ignoring reality. To put it in perspective, not that long ago we willingly paid $400-$800 for an electric typewriter which did a whole lot less than Microsoft Word which can be bought for $70. Even in the software realm, Excel costs far less than we paid for Lotus 123 when it was the only game in town, PowerPoint costs less than Aldus Persuasion and Harvard Graphics used to, and Access is cheaper than Ashton Tate used to charge for dBase. In fact, the entire Microsoft Office Professional suite costs less than that typewriter did back then.
You may not like Microsoft and you don’t have to, you may not want to pay for their software and you don’t have to, you may not buy the value proposition in which case you’d not have to buy the software either. But don’t call it “overcharging” just to be able to force a lawsuit and a subsequent settlement.
Overcharged? Sorry, I don’t buy that argument, and I wish that Microsoft could have fought these suits. Ultimately, Microsoft lawyers probably figured that settling was cheaper, but that does not make the accusation right in any way, shape, or form.