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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 13:42 GMT
Microsoft downplays Google threat
Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates
Mr Gates points to IBM as his single biggest competitor
Bill Gates has played down the threat posed to Microsoft by competition from internet search giant Google.

Google's meteoric rise and rivalry with Microsoft has increasingly become a fixation of the press, Mr Gates said.

"People tend to get over focused on one of our competitors. We've always seen that," the Microsoft chairman said.

Speaking before a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, Mr Gates said computer giant IBM posed a greater threat to Microsoft.

"IBM has always been our biggest competitor. The press just don't like to write about IBM," he told the Reuters news agency.

"The biggest company in the computer industry by far is IBM. They have four times the employees I have, way more revenues than I have," he added.

'Honeymoon period'

Google has been branching out from its core web search services and many of its recent e-mail and e-commerce offerings pose a challenge to Microsoft.

The company has seen its stock price soar since its initial public offering in August 2004, while Microsoft's has remained stagnant.

A legal tussle last year over Google's appointment of a former senior Microsoft executive in China stoked media interest in the rivalry between the two firms.

Google also recently announced a $1bn investment deal with America Online - a move which effectively shut out a rumoured rival deal between Microsoft and AOL.

But Mr Gates predicted press fascination with Google would change with time.

"They (Google) are in their honeymoon period and anything they announce gets hype," he told the Associated Press agency.

"They will obviously branch out beyond internet search, but I think the expectations won't live up to reality."



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