Gates 'Very Open' to Microsoft Settlement

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said on Friday he was ``very open'' to reaching a settlement in the case against the computer giant after an appeals court overturned an order to split up the company.

In interviews with morning television shows to comment on Thursday's court ruling, Gates said extensive litigation was not good for either side in the case.

``Microsoft, as we have been throughout the case, is very open to the idea of settlement. We don't think extensive litigation and the resources that involves are really good for anyone. We will see if that's a possibility,'' Gates told ABC's ``Good Morning America'' program.

In an interview with NBC's ``Today'' show, he said the company would do its best to reach a deal with the Justice Department, which has said it will review Thursday's ruling before deciding how to proceed.

``We will do our best at that (reaching a settlement). At least if we go back to court we will have a much, much more narrowed case,'' said Gates.

On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned an order to split Microsoft in two but left intact a lower court ruling that the software giant broke antitrust laws.

The seven-judge panel agreed with a lower court that Microsoft holds a monopoly in personal computer operating systems with its Windows software and that some of its competitive practices amounted to illegal use of that monopoly.

But the judges severely rebuked original trial judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, saying he had given the appearance of partiality in the case. They ordered him off the case and said a new judge should be appointed to decide vital issues.

Asked whether he took some satisfaction that the appellate court had spoken out against Jackson, Gates told ABC the best way for justice to be served would be to have a new judge.

Jackson's conduct in the case showed that ``the process was not as fair as one might expect,'' Gates told ``The Early Show'' on CBS.

A former justice department official who was involved in the government's case, Jeffrey Blattner, described Thursday's ruling as a ``victory for American consumers'' because it had found that Microsoft had repeatedly abused its monopoly in ways that hurt consumers and retarded innovation in computing.

He predicted both parties would now try to sit down and see if they could agree on a remedy. ``Any remedy would have to address all of the violations found by the court of appeals and assure that they don't happen again in the future,'' he said.

Gates told NBC his company had done its best to minimize distractions during the protracted case and had done a lot of good work on new products in the interim.

``The key thing for Microsoft has always been to continue to focus on doing new software products and fortunately we have been able to do, I think, our best work during the past few years.''

Gates said the protracted litigation was not an experience he would wish on anyone. ``The resources and complexity of going through it, is not a pleasant thing,'' he said.