WinInfo Daily UPDATE, June 30, 2004

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In the News

- Microsoft Settles Lawsuits in Arizona, Massachusetts, North Dakota
- Microsoft Reaches Out to Enthusiasts with Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server Express Editions

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Settles Lawsuits in Arizona, Massachusetts, North Dakota

This week, Microsoft settled class-action lawsuits in Arizona, Massachusetts, and North Dakota, marking the 11th, 12th, and 13th times the company has settled postantitrust cases in the United States. The company will pay as much as a combined $145 million to settle the three cases.
In the Arizona case, Microsoft's proposed settlement is worth $105 million in software vouchers; customers who purchased Windows or Microsoft Office products between 1996 and 2002 will receive vouchers worth $9 to $12 for each purchase. Some Arizona schools will receive unclaimed vouchers toward the purchase of computer products.
Massachusetts plaintiffs could receive software vouchers worth as much as $34 million, a figure lawyers say would be much higher if the state's protection laws included businesses and governments as well as consumers. Qualifying Massachusetts consumers who purchased Microsoft products between 1996 and 2002 are eligible for software vouchers that they can use to purchase computer software or hardware products.
In North Dakota, the court approved a November 2003 preliminary settlement; the $9 million settlement is the smallest of the lot, representative of that state's smaller population. So far only 500 consumers have come forward to claim vouchers but, now that the settlement is finalized, the state expects several schools to benefit as well.
Since Microsoft lost its federal antitrust case, the company has been hit with more than 100 class-action lawsuits around the country, although many cases were consolidated. Microsoft has won 18 of the cases, largely because of local laws that don't let consumers sue companies for indirectly sold products. The company has settled 13 cases so far, and five cases are pending in Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin. Microsoft also faces a potentially damaging antitrust case in Europe, where the company was found guilty of illegally bundling Windows Media Player (WMP) with Windows and withholding information from competitors.

Microsoft Reaches Out to Enthusiasts with Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server Express Editions

Reaching out to the several million nonprofessional developers who probably felt snubbed by the past two Visual Studio .NET releases, Microsoft revealed this week that it will ship simpler, lightweight versions of Visual Studio 2005 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 next year. These easy-to-use products let nonprofessionals build dynamic Web sites and Windows applications. Beta versions of the so-called Express products are available for download now. Microsoft says that the final versions of the products, along with the more professional versions of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, will be available by mid-2005.
Microsoft says that it developed the products for high school students, small businesses, and other nonprofessional developers, a market that encompasses more than 18 million people--or about three times the size of the crowd that develops software for a living. However, the products, which include SQL Server Express Edition (a replacement for the confusingly named Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine--MSDE), Visual Web Developer Express Edition, Visual Basic Express Edition, and Visual C# Express Edition, won't be huge revenue generators. Instead, Microsoft will distribute SQL Server Express Edition for free, and the company is expected to offer the Visual Studio Express tools for less than $50 each.
"This is really about broadening the base," Microsoft Senior Vice President Eric Rudder said. "We're trying to make the Microsoft commercial ecosystem bigger. These low-cost, approachable products will help hobbyists and students learn new skills in a simple and enjoyable way."
In addition to the new tools, Microsoft also announced partnerships with major booksellers and e-commerce sites, such as Amazon, eBay, O'Reilly, and PayPal. The e-commerce partners will supply starter kits for use with the Visual Studio Express products. The booksellers will offer content, samples, and other resources.
Microsoft issued Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 this week. All the Express products and the full Visual Studio 2005 product are available for download from the Microsoft Web sites listed below.

Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1

SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Technical Preview

Visual Studio 2005 Express Beta Products

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