Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay as much as US$18.33 million to settle class action lawsuits in North Dakota and South Dakota that alleged the vendor overcharged for its software.

Both settlements are similar to the ones Microsoft has agreed to in other states. Buyers of Microsoft’s Windows, Office or stand-alone Word or Excel products can apply for vouchers that may be used to buy desktop or notebook computers, software or select peripherals from any vendor.

For North Dakota, the maximum value of the vouchers issued will total US$9 million; for South Dakota the maximum is US$9.33 million, Microsoft said in a statement Wednesday.

As with to the other settlements, one-half of any unclaimed vouchers will be donated to schools, the Redmond, Washington, vendor said.

Microsoft in late October announced settlements with several U.S. states. That announcement included North and South Dakota, but the settlements had not yet been approved and no details were given at the time. The settlements received preliminary approval last Wednesday, Microsoft said.

The North Dakota and South Dakota settlements differ in the period they cover. North Dakotans who bought qualifying Microsoft software between May 18, 1994 and Dec. 31, 2002, are eligible for vouchers, while for South Dakotans the period is between March 10, 1996 and Dec. 31, 2002, Microsoft said.