Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates lashed out against the DOJ petition against his company on Wednesday, calling the government probe unnecessary and the $1 million a day fine "a non-issue."
"What is at issue is the interpretation of the word 'integrate,'" a relaxed Gates said. "Should the DOJ decide what future innovation we can or cannot do?"
Gates explained that the integration of Internet Explorer into Windows was "clearly allowed" under the terms of the 1995 consent decree.
As for the possible daily fine, Gates was dismissive.
"There is no fine. Nobody ever pays a fine," Gates said, adding that the issue will be resolved in court. "Whatever the judge says to do, we'll do. That is the way things work in this country."
Gates has threatened in the past to move Microsoft out of the United States should the government attempt to break it up. His remarks were more than a little testy.
Gates suggested that the DOJ action was the result of pressure from Netscape, which is seeing its stranglehold on the Web browser market whittled away by Microsoft. He also complained that coverage of the DOJ action would be much higher than coverage of its eventually outcome, when, he feels, Microsoft will be vindicated.
For Gates, the issue here is whether Microsoft can control its own products and whether it can continue to innovate.
"You have to control your own product," he said. "We're asking for that right.