"You know what my toughest competitor is?" Gates asked reporters at a media briefing here Monday. "...If you really look around, you'll find way more pirated Windows than you'll find open-source software. Way more."
Gates said Microsoft's software represented a "dramatically higher, better choice than anything you'll get in the open-source realm. It's true the press has taken a few design wins and said, 'Hey, look at that.' And you know, that's great; it's almost helpful to us to have a few of those, where people try that out.
"(They) see that being their own systems integrator--they say, 'OK, I've got this, how do I get the Active Directory? How do I get the software update piece? How do I get the different applications?' And they see...various things about the intellectual-property challenge that'll come into that."
Gates made his remarks as part of a whirlwind trip to Australia, during which he was scheduled to meet with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
According to research conducted for CNET Networks Australia at the start of 2004, corporate information technology users were forecasting a healthy future for popular open-source variant Linux on the desktop, with more than three-fourths of respondents saying it will get a little or a lot stronger.
The research, which secured almost 600 responses from Australia and New Zealand, also found strong support for Linux' future as a server operating system, with 56.5 percent of respondents saying the open-source software would grow stronger and 32.3 percent saying it would grow much stronger.
Windows XP (68.9 percent) and other versions of Windows (62.4 percent) were the only operating systems used at least daily, on average, by a majority of the respondent base.
Iain Ferguson of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.