updated 6/28/2004 7:37:00 PM ET 2004-06-28T23:37:00

Microsoft Corp is cutting the time it takes to fight viruses but needs personal computer users to turn on their auto-updating features to help it combat potentially dangerous attacks, Bill Gates said Monday.

“We will guarantee that the average time to fix will continue to come down,” said Gates, the software giant’s chairman, who was in Australia for a charity launch.

“The thing we have to do is not only get these patches done very quickly ... we also have to convince people to turn on auto-update.”

The Microsoft Windows auto update feature, which is not turned on by default, allows security and other software to be updated and installed automatically. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Gates also said Microsoft would revamp its Internet search site in July with a new search engine, using its dominant industry position to take market share from Google Inc.

“In July the format of the site will change and so the quality of what you get and the way it’ll look is dramatically improved,” Gates told reporters.

“It’ll be later this year that we actually roll out what’s entirely our own back-end driving the search.”

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