Gates: Apple the "Super-Small-Market Share Guy"

Despite positive reviews of the recently released OS X Tiger, Apple Computer is still the "super-small-market share guy" that gets all the praise, Microsoftis chairman and co-founder Bill Gates told a group of business journalists Monday in Seattle, Wash.

Speaking before a meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Mr. Gates took verbal shots at the Macintosh maker saying it was "great" that the general press was "writing about operating systems," but refused to respond to questions that Mac OS X Tiger came out earlier than Microsoftis next version of Windows with a number of features the software giant could only describe.

"Because theyire the super-small-market share guy, they get all these statements about them," Mr. Gates said.

At present, Apple commands less than a 4% market share for PCs shipped both in the U.S. and internationally.

Mr. Gates then reminded the journalists that Mac OS X still canit compete with Windows when it comes to the amount of third-party software available for its operating system.

"You can always tell if youire working on a Mac or a PC," he said. "Just take your applications and stick them in (a Mac) and see if they run."

Mr. Gates has made a number of subtle but direct comments about Apple as of late -- a company Microsoft has a financial stake in. In February, Mr. Gates acknowledged the Apple iPod was a "great success," but that consumers wanted more choice than what Apple could offer and that Microsoft will gain market share in digital media devices in 2005.

On the subject of the iPodis success, Mr. Gates acknowledged Apple has done a "great job" in marketing and selling the iPod, but refused to acknowledged that Apple had beaten out Microsoft for dominance in music players. Mr. Gates vowed that customer choice will win out in the end.

"Itis their (player), only their one music store, only their device," he said of Apple. "What weire doing is providing choices. So itis like the Apple computer versus the PC. With the PC you can buy from many companies so you get cheaper prices, you get more variety and here with music devices weire coming in with the same. But theyire a strong leader in the space and I think as we gain share, people will be surprised."

On Monday, Mr. Gates also said Microsoftis next-generation Xbox gaming console -- code named Xenon -- will be more of a digital entertainment hub than its predecessor, making it even more of a PC hybrid than ever. The new gaming console will debut later this month.

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