Microsoft’s Bill Gates claims last week’s ruling by Judge Jackson, ordering the break-up of the software giant, will have no effect on the company's business until a higher-level court decides the final outcome of the case.

The appeals process is likely to take 12 months or so, and until the final decision, Microsoft will go about its business as usual. Gates said: "Between now and then, it doesn't change anything that we are doing as a company."

"We as a company are moving full speed ahead on all the advances I have talked about today, things like speech recognition, the tablet computer and XML-based computing," Gates said, referring to a speech he made earlier today at the World Congress on Information Technology.

He added: "This is a case that will be decided by a higher-level court. The right of appeal is a very standard right in the US, and all cases of this type are always decided at the level of a higher court."

Gates, who has held a series of meetings today, including one with Taiwan's newly elected President Chen Shui-bian, claimed no one had asked him about the antitrust case until a press conference today.