Microsoft looks ahead, sees financial growth

During a working visit to Australia to attend the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that countries such as India and China will fuel his company's growth in the near future. Gates noted that established Asian markets were already responsible for the company's highest growth rates and that emerging businesses in India and China are set to explode financially. "Asia as a whole has been the highest growth area for us," Gates said. "In the future, India and China will be a source of great growth for us, but just aren't nearly the size the developed markets are at this point."

Gates, who will stop briefly in India and Malaysia during his trip, will then return to Australia for the 2000 Olympic Games, which begin Friday in Sydney. He was asked about Microsoft's share price, which has hovered around $70 for months after hitting a high of almost $120 in December. "Our share price has done phenomenally well if you take most time curves," he said. "If you take a short time curve, yeah, it's been volatile, it's been higher, it's been lower. I don't look at the daily share price, I do know that the place for the greatest contribution in the years ahead will be in software."

During a press conference in Sydney this weekend, questions about the company's performance persisted, but Gates brushed off any concerns. "Our share price is only up 10,000 percent since we went public," he said. "We are only in the top 10 valuable companies in the world. We've got this meager valuation of something well over US$300 billion.'

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