NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates will seek to show that it is "preposterous" that his company can be the gatekeeper to the Internet when he appears before a U.S. Senate committee in Washington Tuesday.
Gates will give testimony at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary committee headed by Sen. Orrin Hatch. Others appearing as part of the panel will include software firm CEOs Jim Barksdale of Netscape (NSCP), Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems (SUNW), Michael Dell of Dell Computer Corp. (DELL), and Doug Burgum of Great Plains Software Inc. (GPSI).
The panel was called by Hatch to discuss competition in the software industry. Microsoft has been singled out by many critics as attempting to use its strong market position to smother competition.
In his prepared remarks, Gates dismisses any claims that Microsoft (MSFT) could do so even if it wanted to. "It is preposterous to think that any one company could ever control access to the Internet," he asserts.
The U.S. Justice Department, among others, doesn't think that's necessarily true. The agency currently is battling Microsoft in court. It is accusing Microsoft, which makes the Windows operating system used in 90 percent of all personal computers, of pushing its other products, including its Internet Explorer browser, to the exclusion of competitors' products.
Gates says world domination is not on his agenda, however. "I can say without hesitation that it is not, nor has it ever been, the intention of my company to turn the Information Superhighway into a toll road."
Microsoft's chief reiterates that his company is merely trying to remain competitive in the ever-changing world of software development, where a company can become obsolete almost overnight.
A nod to his competitors
Sitting on the panel Tuesday will be two of Microsoft's biggest critics, Netscape's Jim Barksdale and Sun's Scott McNealy.
In what could be an attempt to make things a little more congenial, Gates' remarks use both companies' success as evidence of the fast pace of the industry.
"Sun's Java programming language emerged from nowhere to become one of the most highly-touted products in the history of the computer software industry. In fact, Java has become something of an overnight sensation," he says.
Possibly referring to Sun's current lawsuit against Microsoft, Gates goes on to say that "While Microsoft does not share all of Sun's ambitions for Java, we agree that it is a very valuable tool for software developers."
Gates will use the testimony as a public platform to once again answer Justice Department charges that his company is effectively a monopoly in the software industry.
"A monopolist, by definition, is a company that has the ability to restrict entry by new firms and unilaterally control prices. Microsoft can do neither."
Citing the software development motto "Innovate or die!", Gates says his company will continue to push forward and create the software for tomorrow's computer users.
"Microsoft and other vendors are offering innovative products in categories that did not even exist two or three years ago and every product on the market today will likely be obsolete in the same amount of time.
"The only question for Microsoft is whether we will be the ones to replace those products, or whether some other company will do a better job."