Gates addresses shareholders

Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates used his annual presentation at the company's shareholders meeting in San Francisco to lash out against attacks from competitors and the U.S. Department of Justice. Gates had some nasty words about Ralph Nader in particular, who organized a Microsoft "witch hunt" earlier this week.

"We think it's great that many shareholders are speaking out on our behalf," Gates said. "When we have a witch hunt--which \[the Ralph Nader conference\] is--it's nice to see the owners...speaking out on our behalf."

As for the Department of Justice Department, Gates believes that "the legal system will protect Microsoft's right to compete \[though\] we find it highly ironic that browsers are seen as a threat to operating systems, \[and\] we're told not to put the browser in our product."

Gates said that the computer industry--largely dominated by Microsoft for the past ten years--is a model for any industry.

"People do have a choice in hardware and do benefit from lower prices. Windows is very central here and we are keeping that price very, very low."

In a question and answer period that ended his presentation, Gates said that Microsoft is talking with a number of satellite companies about technology licensing. Microsoft is also committed to the Macintosh platform, despite decreasing sales. Gates pointed to Office 98 for the Mac and Internet Explorer as the Mac's default browser as positive signs for the platform

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