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Monday, March 02, 2009, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

No iPods, iPhones allowed in Gates household

The three children of Bill and Melinda Gates may not be allowed to have a product from a certain Cupertino-based rival in their home, but that doesn't mean Mrs. Gates doesn't wish for an Apple gadget every once in a while.

Melinda Gates told Vogue in a recent interview that the couple's three children try to have "as regular a childhood as possible,", but that doesn't include Apple's ubiquitous iPod digital music and video player or its cellular companion, the iPhone.

"There are very few things that are on the banned list in our household," she said. "But iPods and iPhones are two things we don't get for our kids."

Gates' husband Bill, of course, founded Microsoft, which sells its own line of digital media players under the Zune brand name. So when it comes to the market-leading iPod, it's look-but-don't-touch for the Gates family, including the three children (aged 12, 9, and 6), and even Melinda herself.

"Every now and then I look at my friends and say, 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone,'" she said.

Melinda Gates, who was hired by Microsoft at the age of 22 and worked on products like Encarta, Expedia, and Microsoft Bob, went on to marry the founder of the company. Vogue describes her as possibly the "most ambitious woman on Earth."

Together, Bill and Melinda Gates run their eponymous charity organization that enjoys assets of around $35 billion.

The two say they still plan to give all of their fortune away. The interview didn't mention whether the three Gates children, aged 12, 9, and 6, use Zunes, but it does detail some of the charitable causes, from the American high school system to global public health, to which the couple has devoted itself.