Gates Testifies U.S. Has No Case

Article excerpt

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) -- The government doesn't have much of a case in its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, Chairman Bill Gates told shareholders Wednesday.

"As our witnesses come forward you will see the facts simply don't support the government's claim," Gates said in his first extended remarks about the case since the trial began.

He complained that the trial in Washington, D.C., has given Microsoft's competitors a chance to snipe at the software giant, aided by carefully edited choices of electronic mail and other evidence by Department of Justice lawyers. "The DOJ has misused e-mail snippets to create a false impression," Gates said. Gates, who was greeted with a standing ovation by the approximately 2,000 shareholders when he entered the room, said the government's action threatens to stifle innovation in one of the nation's most dynamic industries. Microsoft has given shareholders reason to applaud, with its 23rd straight year of record profits and revenues. Last month, the company reported first quarter earnings of $1.68 million, or 62 cents per diluted share, up from $663 million, or 25 cents per diluted share in the same period a year earlier. Gates' comments came a day after notes made public at the antitrust trial said that he had told executives at computer chip manufacturer Intel three years ago, "this antitrust thing will blow over." Gates said the U.S. technology industry is extremely healthy -- by some estimates accounting for a quarter of the nation's economy. He said that with the price of computers plummeting, and with intense competition over software, he can't understand what benefits consumers would receive if the government proves successful in its case. The government and 20 states accuse Microsoft of illegally using its influence as the maker of the dominate Windows operating system to maintain what the government portrays as monopoly power over personal computers. …