Gates Waxes Philosophical

At a dinner gathering, Gates comments on the antitrust case, Linux, and the piracy problem in China.

REDMOND, WASH.—Wrapping up his companys annual investor conference, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates waxed philosophical and discussed a range of topics with a host of dinner guests gathered round his table.

Gates reiterated that he is in the business for the long haul. "I expect to do this for a long time," he said. "We change configurations and we do that to get into a stable configuration for the next decade or so," Gates said, referring to the changes in Windows and the .Net initiative to deliver XML Web services. "Im really enjoying this stuff. I want to get Longhorn done and then Longhorn plus one done."

Gates rounded out the second day of discussions regarding Microsofts technological and financial situation by entertaining a dinner crowd of hangers on.

He said he hopes for a favorable ruling in the antitrust case pending in federal court against the software giant. Barring a favorable ruling, Gates said Microsoft is prepared to push on to the Supreme Court.

"The things we dont like are permanent," he said of the issues separating Microsofts views and those of the non-settling states in the case. "Its either a favorable ruling or its like, oh, my source code is gone," Gates said to the delight of his audience.

When asked about Linux and the Mono project to clone the .Net Framework, Gates said: "they can do quite a bit, but never what we do." He said Microsoft could innovate much faster.

Meanwhile, Gates said Microsoft is working hard to battle the piracy problem in China, which he called the second or third largest PC market in the world. He said he has enlisted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to help in that effort.

And speaking of the software business overall, Gates said people need to get their views back in line. He said a firm such as a contact management company alone couldnt last. "SAP has a franchise, Siebel has a franchise, Adobe does, Oracle does for ERP, and we have a franchise. But look at the number of times when somebody had a leading product and it gets knocked off… Think of the times when it wasnt Microsoft doing the knocking off – its not likely. I view that with massive skepticism."

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