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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 11:39 GMT

Business: The Company File

Gates rebounds from court blow

Bill Gates says Microsoft is still creating new technology

Microsoft chief Bill Gates is bouncing back from the blow of a legal ruling against his company, and is aiming to rally the internet world behind him.

Mr Gates has unveiled a new scaled-down device designed just for accessing the internet.

And he declared that Microsoft encourages innovation in the hi-tech industry.

Mr Gates's clear reference to the long-running anti-trust case in the US came as he made a presentation to a giant computer show in Las Vegas.

But he made no direct comment on the federal judge's ruling that Microsoft operated a monopoly.

Earlier this month, the judge ruled that Microsoft had wielded monopoly power in personal computer operating systems - a major setback for the company.

Break-up possible

At the Comdex computer trade show, Mr Gates, founder, chairman and chief executive of the company, tried to show his business was marching on.

But in a separate interview, he has acknowledged the possible break-up of Microsoft as a result of the case.

Asked by Time magazine whether he would oppose such a solution, Gates said that he could not discuss the likely details of any settlement.

During the Comdex show, he showed off a prototype of a new hand-held computer that lets people browse the web, consult calendars and exchange e-mail.

The appliance - which connects to the internet via Microsoft's MSN service - is called the Web Companion, and code-named Mariner.

It is a small textbook-sized device running Microsoft's Windows software.

'Every-room device'

The gadgets are larger than palm-sized PCs, which also use Windows but do not offer keyboards or a fully-fledged web service.

The Web Companion, and others like it, will be part of a future in which homes have multiple devices accessing the internet from every room, Mr Gates predicted.

The Web Companion is expected to be available in the second half of 2000 and is likely to be given away to people who sign up for internet access.

Mr Gates also stressed Microsoft's support for a new internet programming language, XML, that enables information to be easily exchanged between a variety of networked computers.

XML is intended to make finding and retrieving information simpler.

In addition, he gave a demonstration of Microsoft's long-awaited Windows 2000, the long-delayed upgrade of the Windows NT operating system.

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