TAIPEI, Taiwan — Bill Gates brushed off the federal ruling ordering a breakup of his company, calling it on Tuesday an "unfortunate distraction" that he believed would eventually be resolved in Microsoft's favor.

Last week's ruling "did not reflect reality" and was a "rewriting of the rules" in terms of giving consumers a choice of products, Gates said.

So far, the company has filed only a motion to halt Jackson's ruling, not an appeal.

Separately, Robert Young, chairman of Microsoft competitor Red Hat Inc. of Durham, N.C., indicated that if the federal ruling were to be upheld, the field would then be open to other software developers.

"The result is that we are seeing more and more creative applications coming out of the labs and into the commercial marketplace just literally in the last few months," Young told a press conference.

Customers, Young said, are currently being "forced to constantly spend a lot more money on Microsoft" for every additional personal computer they buy. A breakup of Microsoft would "require massive re-engineering of their company," he said.

Gates acknowledged a trend in other major players offering alternative software to Microsoft's operating systems, but he was confident in Microsoft's position as the world's pre-eminent software developer.

"We, as a company, are moving full speed ahead on all advances. The lawsuit doesn't change anything," Gates said. Other software applications "had no unity" as opposed to the versions offered by Microsoft, he added.

At the news conference, Gates took questions mostly from local reporters, who had to submit their questions in advance.