Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates heralded Microsoft's readiness to fight Apple over operating systems this week.

He was speaking to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers about Microsoft's forthcoming next-generation Xbox, which he promised would be a media hub.

But it was in response to questions about Microsoft's slowpoke Longhorn operating system, and Apple's successful introduction of its own 'Tiger' OS last week (attracting rave reviews globally) that Gates fired an arrow.

Saying he was pleased the media was becoming interested in operating systems, he said: "You can always tell if you're working on a Mac or a PC. Just take your applications and stick them in there and see if they run," he said, just after calling Apple "the super-small market share guy."