Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates, along with other industry luminaries such as Michael Dell, Jim Barksdale, and Scott McNealy, appeared before a Senate judiciary committee today to testify about Microsoft's dominant position in the software industry. The testimony was carried live on Tuesday morning by CNN.

Gates told the committee that his company does not have a monopoly in operating systems.

"As you know, a monopolist, by definition, is a company that has the ability to restrict entry by new firms and unilaterally control price. Microsoft can do neither," Gates said.

Netscape's Jim Barksdale, who joined Sun's Scott McNealy in a decidedly McCarthyism-like press conference the night before (it was even held in front of a huge American flag), told reporters that his Navigator 4.0 wouldn't even run on Windows 98, which is, of course, totally untrue.

"I and many others have become increasingly concerned that Microsoft's abuse of its monopoly power, unless addressed through enforcement of our antitrust laws, will adversely affect the course of American commerce and communications in the information age," Barksdale said to the committee.

Gates defended Microsoft and denied persistent talk that the company wants to use the Internet as a private toll road. He called the idea that any one company could control the Internet "preposterous".

"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," he said.

Sun's Scott McNealy had the best comment of the day, however.

"The only thing I'd rather own more than Windows is the English language... then, I could charge everyone to use it and charge more when I added new letters like 'N' and 'T'," McNealy said to laughs