Thousands of California schools will receive free software, hardware, and computerized professional development resources as part of a $1.1 billion settlement that Microsoft Corp. reached with consumers who had accused the software giant of violating the state's antitrust and unfair competition laws.

Under the agreement, announced Jan. 10, proceeds of the settlement will be distributed in the form of vouchers redeemable for computers and software products.

The settlement stems from a class-action lawsuit filed in 1999 on behalf of California consumers and businesses and covers those who bought Microsoft's operating


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