No break-up of Microsoft, says Gates

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BILL GATES has dismissed suggestions that his legal battle with the US Justice Department could culminate in the break-up of Microsoft, now the world's biggest company.

The founder of Microsoft, one of the world's richest men, also indicated he would oppose any attempts to split the Windows operating system off from the remainder of the company.

In an interview with Director magazine, to be published later this week, Mr Gates says Microsoft is being attacked for having enabled people to connect to the Internet more cheaply.

Asked if Microsoft could be broken up, as the telecoms monopoly AT&T was in the 1980s, Mr Gates says: "No, no, no. AT&T was a government-created situation where they were given a government monopoly and nobody could compete in that space. In our space, the amount of competition is ever- increasing."

The legal case against Microsoft centres around complaints that the software giant cornered the Internet market by incorporating its browser, Internet Explorer, into its Windows operating system, which is used in virtually all personal computers.

"What they're saying is we shouldn't have done that, we shouldn't have integrated it in, we should have made people buy it and install it as a separate product, we shouldn't have brought the price for that down and just had it there as a no-extra-cost feature.

"The irony of that is pretty strong. It's a pretty fundamental principle for us to be able to add new things into Windows because it is the operating system.

"What people expect of it is always changing. They'll expect speech in the future, they'll expect vision in the future, and we're just at the beginning of what we need to do there.

"Although we're successful, we're allowed to innovate ... that is the most pro-consumer thing we've ever done."

Mr Gates will be speaking at the Institute of Directors' annual convention later this month, where he will be expanding on his vision of the "digital nervous system" - a paperless world where businesses, suppliers and customers are linked entirely through the Internet.