It looks like Microsoft is going to settle some of the private class action lawsuits against it by giving some used computers and software to poor school districts. The software is “valued” at $900 million, but of course we know that the marginal cost of that software is 0 as far as Microsoft is concerned. The quandry that the people who brought the suits faced was that the amount of the settlement would not be greater than the cost of contacting all of the members of the class and distributing payments to them. The MSNBC story from the Wall Street Journal is the most detailed I’ve seen, Wired News also has a report. Th e hard numbers are in the WSJ story:

According to lawyers and others briefed on the deal, Microsoft would provide software valued at about $900 million over five years to schools where most students qualify for free federal lunch programs. Microsoft also would be responsible for making available 200,000 reconditioned computers and laptop computers during that period, $90 million in teacher training and $38 million in technical support. It would provide as much as $250 million to set up an independent foundation to meet project goals, and would seek an additional $200 million in matching funds.