The teen virus writer fined just under $500,000 has been given a break by Microsoft.

Rather than be forced to pay back whatever sum he can afford, or take future earnings, the software giant has settled for 225 hours of community service. Which works out at $2,211 an hour - good work if you can get it.

Microsoft agreed to forego the cash 19-year-old Jeffrey Lee Parson owes for writing the destructive Blaster worm to make him work with less fortunate members of his community, with one proviso - the work doesn't involve computers or the Internet.

Parson pleaded guilty last year to creating the W32.Blaster-B worm, which infected tens of thousands of computers in 2003. In January, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by a three-year supervised release and 100 hours of community service. The parties later stipulated that Parson owed Microsoft $497,546.55 in restitution.

The Blaster variant appeared a few days after the original in August 2003. Both worms took advantage of flaws in Microsoft's Windows operating systems that allowed hackers to take control of PCs. The Blaster worms instructed infected PCs to launch denial-of-service attacks on Microsoft's Windows Update website on certain dates.

Parson's variant used a file name that was identical to a domain name registered in his name. The FBI was able to trace the domain name to computers owned by Parson. He was arrested days after his variant appeared.

"We are pleased this prosecution has been fully resolved with a prison sentence and appropriate restitution. Parson’s additional community service will have a stronger impact on him in serving his sentence," said Tim Cranton, a Microsoft lawyer.

The agreement between Microsoft and Parson still has to be approved by Judge Marsha Pechman, who in January gave Parson a break at sentencing. The sentence could have been as long as 37 months in prison but Pechman chose the lighter sentence based on Parson's age, history of mental illness and lack of parental supervision, prosecutors said at the time.