Gates to testify before Congress

First he said his schedule was too tight to squeeze in an invitation to testify before Congress. So much for schedules.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) CEO Bill Gates will indeed testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 3, a committee spokeswoman said on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the committee said it was "pleased that Mr. Gates has accepted the invitation to testify on March 3." The committee is chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Hatch (R-Utah) invited Gates and two other top computer executives to testify before the Judiciary Committee about competition and the Internet. A Microsoft spokesman had said on Thursday that Gates had a "longstanding commitment" and it was unclear whether he could appear.

The Utah Republican said in a statement Thursday that he was inviting Gates, Scott McNealy, president of Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW); and Jim Barksdale, president of Netscape Communications Corp. (NSCP).

McNealy and Barksdale have been bitter rivals of Gates. Sun has sued Microsoft over Java. Netscape has accused Microsoft of unfair competition, an allegation the Justice Department has acknowledged in legal actions against the software giant.

Hatch said in his statement that the hearing would "provide an important step in our consideration of how antitrust policy could best serve consumers and the long-term health of the software industry and the Internet generally."