Speaking at Comdex Internet here, Microsoft's CEO said Java would be only one of several languages used in the future, and that other key languages would continue to emerge.
Gates offered his view on Java after a keynote address in which he spoke about using computer technology to streamline businesses. He used the forum to repeat Microsoft's product strategy and touched on Internet usage in everyday life.
"The world is going to have lots of languages," Gates said. "We have no religion about languages. We are going to continue to provide compatibility."
The pitfall of multiplatform languages, Gates said, is that they don't take advantage of interfaces or capabilities inherently unique to a system. For a Mac user, an application developed in Java would not fully exploit distinctive capabilities of the Mac environment, he said.
In the future, predicted Gates, Java's role will be like that of C or C++.
"Java will join a line-up of languages. In two years there will be more new ideas," he said. "The only place you get disagreement is where people say Java is going to be the only language."
Gates took no questions from the audience and did not mention the suit filed by Sun on Tuesday.