Gates: Innovation, not greed, drives Internet
Gates defends his company before a Senate panel
"Software industry success has not been driven by government
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"Innovation depends on freedom ..."
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Tech chiefs testify at Senate hearing
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defending Microsoft against its critics,
chief executive Bill Gates said Tuesday his company's
dominant position in the computer industry was due to
fast-changing innovation in the technology field, not a
desire to monopolize it.
"Innovation depends on freedom to move constantly from one
frontier to the next," Gates told the Senate Judiciary
Committee at a hearing on anticompetitive issues and
The Justice Department has charged that Microsoft holds a
monopoly in the market for personal computer operating
systems and has accused the company of violating a 1995
consent decree that was aimed at increasing competition in
the software industry.
Gates denied that Microsoft wants to use its Windows
operating system to gain control of the Internet and extract
a royalty for every transaction on the Net.
"Microsoft is in a court battle to test its right whether we
can support these open Internet standards in its Windows
system," he testified. "The beauty of the Internet is its
openness. It cannot be controlled or dominated or cut off
because it is simply a constantly changing series of
Gates has said Microsoft would lose its industry leadership
position if the Justice Department prevailed in its lawsuit
alleging the company was leveraging its dominance in
operating system software to gain business in the market for
Gates also drew an analogy to point up the enormity of the
changes the computer industry has undergone in a relatively
short span of time.
"Computer prices have decreased 10 million-fold since 1971.
That's the equivalent of consumers getting a Boeing 747 for
the price of a pizza today."
The Microsoft chief sat at a witness table with CEOs of other
computer and software companies, including two bitter rivals
-- James Barksdale of Netscape Communications and Scott
McNealy, chief executive of Sun Microsystems.
They were to testify later.
In an opening statement as the hearing began, Committee
Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, warned that monopolistic power
could stifle creativity in the technology field.
"Potential innovators," he said, could be "cut off before
they even start" if a single firm "is able to exploit its
market power to prevent competition and demonstrates an avid
willingness to do so."
"I think all of our panelists will agree that our antitrust
laws are designed to protect consumers, not competitors,"
Hatch said. "But I hope they will also agree that at least
over the long run, consumers can be harmed when one firm is
able to use its current power to prevent the successful
establishment of competing new technologies that drive