LAS VEGAS -- Bill Gates made his first major public appearance Sunday following a federal judge's Nov. 5 findings that Microsoft was a monopoly that had abused its power.

"Has anybody here heard any good lawyer jokes recently?" he quipped as he began his annual keynote address at the COMDEX computer trade show.He talked about computer innovators working in their garages and lawyers working in their 20th-story offices, "both groups doing what they do best."

Then the Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer launched a videotaped portion of the presentation, where he donned the persona of movie character Austin Powers and appeared as a defendant in a card-playing argument before Judge Judy, who told him he "gotta visit"

He also got network television journalists Tom Brokaw and Diane Sawyer on camera, in a canned presentation, where they quibbled with each other but had nothing bad to say about Microsoft or its 2-year-old antitrust lawsuit with the Justice Department and 18 state attorneys general.

Given the chances Microsoft could be hit with significant consequences, like being broken up into smaller companies, or "Baby Bills," Gates treated the event like you would expect to see from a celebrity who had been given a highly publicized speeding ticket -- not like the richest CEO on the planet whose company may face divestiture.

"I want to say how much I appreciate the people who have sent letters and e-mail during the last week," he said. "The strong sentiment that all of the people have written is that the PC industry and Microsoft's role in it have benefited consumers immensely, and instead of doing less innovation in Windows we should do more innovation in Windows."

And that was it. Gates wasn't going to let his massive exposure to the eyes and ears of the computer industry be given to the lawsuit.

Still, the audience enjoyed it when a Microsoft co-presenter slipped on a word and told Gates "you were just disgusting" instead of referring to the Internet topic Gates "was just discussing."

Perhaps one point Microsoft failed to put across convincingly in court will be played out during the weeklong computer show, which is expected to draw 230,000 attendees during the week. The Justice Department argued Microsoft held monopoly power in the personal computer operating system market with its Windows products. Microsoft argued that kind of domination is a fleeting thing and that it does have competitors.

Even though Gates still gets the premier keynote spot and is one of the largest exhibitors at the show, more computer operating systems are emerging, especially in the "beyond the PC" era of Palm Pilots and other specialty computing devices.

Debuting at the trade show during the week are a number of computers in the $500-and-under price range designed specifically for use with the Internet.

Gates showed a prototype of a small computer, code-named Mariner, that lets people browse the Web, plot out calendars and exchange e-mail. The computer, known as an MSN-based Web companion, will run on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system and be sold by middle of next year by companies including Acer, Philips Electronics and Thomson Consumer Electronics.

Gates also showed how Microsoft, working with Web site operators, is pursuing new types of services the company says will make people's lives easier. One such service he illustrated would work in tandem with satellites to give car drivers access to the Web and help direct them to attractive roadside spots, such as the lowest-priced gas station along a given route.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.