Bill Gates asked to testify at Senate hearing

Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates has been asked to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on March 6th, along with Sun's Scott McNealy and Jim Barksdale of Netscape. A Microsoft spokesperson says that Gates has an unspecified "previous long-standing commitment" and will send a replacement if he can't make it.

"If his schedule frees up, \[he\] could possibly, certainly \[attend\], the spokesperson said. "We hope that the hearing will be fair and balanced."

Netscape says that Jim Barksdale is free to make the hearing but will only appear if Gates does.

"Mr. Barksdale would welcome the opportunity to appear with Mr. Gates. If Mr. Gates does not attend, it's highly unlikely Mr. Barksdale will."

Meanwhile, over at Sun, no one seems to know Scott McNealy's schedule.

"We're taking a look at it right now. Until we've checked his calendar, we won't know whether or not he will be available to attend," said a Sun spokesperson. "We definitely feel that the issues Senator Hatch is raising are important ones."

The hearing was arranged by Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, a republican from Utah. Hatch has raised concerns about Microsoft's monopoly dominance in the past and would like to see a more even playing field in the computer market. Hatch expects to hear "hear "industry perspectives on the competitive dynamics underlying significant structural shifts in modern computing" at the hearing. "This should provide an important step in our consideration of how antitrust policy could best serve consumers and the long-term health of the software industry and the Internet generally.

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