Microsoft has proposed an estimated $1.1 billion settlement to a class action antitrust suit against the company in California ? and Apple objects to the terms of the proposed agreement.

Convicted anti-trust software giant Microsoft is proposing to offer vouchers worth $1.1 billion to Californian customers ranging between $4 to $29 in value. To qualify for these, customers must have purchased Microsoft software between February 18, 1995 to December 15, 2001.

Two thirds of the amount left unclaimed will be donated to 4,700 of California's poorest schools; Microsoft will retain the remaining third. As this is an out-of-court proposal, the company has not admitted to any fault in the matter.

Limiys Apple objects to the way money given to schools must be spent, and the fact that just two-thirds of unclaimed cash goes to such schools, MacCentral reports.

Apple told MacCentral: "Less than 25 per cent of customers redeem such vouchers, so to accurately evaluate Microsoft's offer we must focus on the fate of the unclaimed voucher funds."

Apple explains that Microsoft will retain one third of the unclaimed funds, and that schools may only redeem "another third" to purchase Microsoft products. Just one third of the proposed amount is available for schools to purchase "the products of their choice", Apple said.

"Apple strongly believes that Microsoft should make the entire pool of unclaimed voucher funds available to our schools to purchase any technology products that best meet their needs," said Apple.

Apple believes Microsoft should not be allowed to retain one third of the unclaimed funds, nor should it be able to "dictate" what solutions schools acquire.

Despite Microsoft's refusal to admit fault, Apple says the settlement has been imposed against Microsoft for "breaking the law".

Any settlement "should not allow Microsoft to unfairly compete in education - one of the few remaining markets where it doesn't have monopoly power", said Apple.