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Drummer/singer Phil Collins once asked the philosophical teaser: "How many times can I say I'm sorry?" It seems Bill Gates might have the answer: three.

Gates used his company's AJAX-friendly MIX06 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, to issue his third self-confessed mea culpa, this time admitting Microsoft made a mistake on Internet Explorer.

Specifically, Gates confessed to an error over his company's sub-par development efforts around IE in recent years, while pledging to bolster future engineering work. "In a sense we're doing a mea culpa, saying we waited too long for a browser release," he said.

Does that qualify as an apology? We guess we'll have to take what we're given, but The Reg does note it takes a big man to admit his mistakes in public and it's pleasing to see that the world's richest geek is not above making such frank admissions. In recent years, Gates has issued mea culpas on his company's behalf for its poor track record on security in Windows and Windows applications, and for also failing to deliver on the .NET vision as outlined by Gates himself.

Job done, Gates made it clear to the MIX06 crowd that Microsoft is now making up for lost time on the IE front. The company is working on the next two versions after IE 7.0 while Microsoft used the conference to announce the release of a second IE 7.0 beta. ®

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