The dispute between Microsoft and Linux software vendor has entered a new phase.

A San Francisco court, siding with Microsoft, has ordered the administrator in the $1.1 billion Microsoft California class-action settlement to reject refund claims against the software behemoth filed through, a Web site run by Linux vendor

Under the settlement announced in January 2003, those who bought Microsoft's operating system or productivity software for use in California between February 18, 1995, and December 15, 2001, can get vouchers worth between $5 and $29 depending on the product bought.

The class-action lawsuit accused Microsoft of overcharging for its software. Microsoft has settled several similar suits in various US states.

The San Francisco Superior Court also ordered the administrator to include a statement on the official settlement Web site telling the public that claims filed through MSfreePC are invalid. Telephone customer service representatives for the administrator are to be instructed to tell callers the same, according to a copy of the order on Microsoft's site.

The administrator, Rust Consulting, was also ordered to obtain from the names and addresses of people who used the MSfreePC site and send those claimants an official claim form, according to the order, which was posted last week.

Microsoft in December had asked the court to bar from taking in settlement claims. Claims filed through the MSfreePC Web site do not comply with the settlement or the claims procedures, according to Microsoft. launched in September as a way for California software buyers to get a piece of the settlement. The site is no longer taking in claims. It offered Lindows software and Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice suite in exchange for a claim and the vouchers that certain software buyers are entitled to under the settlement.

About 15,000 people used the MSfreePC service, according to Those who took advantage of the software offer can keep the software even though their claims will not be processed via the MSfreePC site, said in a statement issued Monday.

Visit the official Web site for the California settlement.