Apple will file supplementary papers today, urging a Maryland federal judge to take cash from Microsoft, rather than software, in a settlement of several private suits taken against Microsoft for antitrust violations.

Microsoft is proposing to settle the litigation in a complex deal, involving giving computers and software to 14,000 of the poorest US schools. The company claims the settlement will be platform agnostic, leaving individual institutions free to choose the computer platform they like. However, Microsoft has admitted that much of the software it plans to donate is Windows-only.

Critics suggest that despite these claims, Microsoft would still be able to use the deal to create a dependency on technologies belonging to the company

Apple threat The deal threatens Apple's interests, as education is one of Apple's key markets. Last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs condemned the deal as "unfair", pointing out: "We're baffled that a settlement imposed against Microsoft for breaking the law should allow, even encourage, them to unfairly make inroads into education - one of the few markets left where they don't have monopoly power."

The software element of Microsoft's proposed settlement could represent $500 million of the $1 billion agreement.

In an additional statement released yesterday, Jobs said: "We think people should know that the actual costs to Microsoft for this donated software will likely be under $1 million.

"We think a far better settlement is for Microsoft to give its proposed $1 billion - in cash - to an independent foundation which will provide our most needy schools with the computer technology of their choice."

Microsoft will get its chance to answer its critics on Monday.