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Culture

Gates is pushy about his filthy lucre

Bill Gates hit the $20billion mark this week, and I'm 15 grand in the hole for a new retaining wall in my garden and a garbage disposal.

Bill Gates hit the $20 billion mark this week, and I'm 15 grand in the hole for a new retaining wall in my garden and a garbage disposal. In the time it takes me to boot up my Windows 95 PC in the morning, Big Bill's portfolio gains a cool million or so in value. The crime of it all seems obvious to no one but me.

When you're sitting on pile of loot that big, you can pretty much pay people to use your Web browser, I reckon. Microsoft has used every promotional trick in the book to lure Explorer users, including, now, donating money to charities if you'll just download the darn thing. That's right, Microsoft says it will give a buck to Silicon Valley's Tech Museum of Innovation for every user that fetches Explorer from its site. Maybe Bill Clinton can finagle a deficit reduction plan that's connected to IE downloads?

Bill Gates isn't a pushover, and neither is Explorer 4.0. It's no secret that Redmondian's next browser will allow publishers to "push" headlines and multimedia widgets to Net users with a feature called Active Themes. My latest intelligence reports say that Microsoft is in talks with a pioneer in the "push" field, PointCast, and may cut a deal that would allows the latter to deliver its information channels to IE 4 users.

And on another Bill front, President Clinton and Bob Dole have allowed their post-election emotions to spill over into cyberspace. While the Dole site is a tad morose, Clinton's digital outpost can barely contain its star-spangled jubilance. Is this cybergloating in action?

E pluribus erratum: In my last column, I greatly exaggerated the rumors of Photoshop 3.05's death on Windows NT 4.0, according to several huffy users of that program. I shouldn't have said the product was "useless" on NT. However, Adobe product support did confirm to my stool pigeons that NT 4.0 is nothing but trouble when it comes to certain PhotoShop 3.05 functions, such as scanning images in. I'll be nothing but trouble unless you email me your rumors soon.