Microsoft CEO Bill Gates addressed his stockholders on Wednesday as he does every year and assured them of victory in the antitrust case against the company.
"You have to ask, is this case being brought on behalf of consumers? Do they want to pay for a browser, or to they want to have it come as part of an operating system?" he asked. "There is an effort here to advance the interests of a handful of competitors over the interests of consumers and the economy."
Gates reminded the stockholders that a federal judge ruled in June that Internet Explorer was an integrated component of Windows and a "benefit" to consumers. A major argument by the DOJ in the current case is that IE is not integrated and that, ultimately, the bundling will harm consumers.
"In the end I am confident that the government will protect Microsoft's right to innovate, because in the end that is what everybody wants," Gates said.
For the coming year, Microsoft warned of slowed growth and slowed hiring. The company now employees over 27,000 people around the world, though half of them work in Redmond. Three new products--SQL Server 7.0, Windows 2000, and Office 2000--will keep the money rolling in.
And how's this for a friendly crowd? Gates was given a standing ovation when he arrived. After his talk, he worked the room, signing autographs