"Wiiiiilliam Gaaaates..."

"Oh, hi, Satan. What's up downstairs?"

"It's tiiiiime..."

"Yeah, but we're still debugging Memphis, and Ballmer swears he'll wipe out Adobe before lunch, and Melinda wants to change the tile in the third-floor kitchen again, and..."

"Sorry, Bill. I've given you too many extensions already, not to mention the Oracle8 launch event disaster, not to mention Steve Jobs' head on a platter."

"Yeah, that was a good one. I think you enjoy this as much as I..."

"Regardless, a deal's a deal. Your soul is mine, Bill Gates. And today is the day you pay your eternal debt to me."

"Now, let's be reasonable here, Satan..."

"Reasonable?!? You want reasonable?!? You're the richest man in the world! You've got a beautiful wife and daughter! Microsoft is the most powerful company on the planet! We're even using NT to run hell's WAN server! And frankly, it sucks. That's one of the reasons I've come to collect. If you can't get my network to run right, you'll spend the afterlife writing Windows applications that run on doorbells..."

"What's your alternative, Satan? Netware? AppleTalk? OS/2? You're a funny guy for someone who breathes fire."

"Well, God is porting all his heaven-critical applications to Java..."

"Java?!? Stop it, Satan. You're going to make me wet my pants again like that time you told me to buy Novell for $50 a share."

"Yes, Java, running on Sun servers, IBM plumbing and Oracle databases with thin clients accessing the apps via the web through Netscape Navigator."

"That's not a solution, that's one of those Grimm's fairy tales that scare children to death. I have yet to see an NC actually being used to do anything except crash during demonstrations. Look, Java is a nice little language for animating web sites, but Shockwave after too many espressos isn't going to displace Windows as an applications platform on hundreds of millions of PCs."

"Nevertheless, Java is the future of computing, and I'll be damned if I'm going to give God a strategic technology advantage!"

"Satan, what if I told you I could kill off Java with a single word?"

"Interesting. Tell me more."

"Wait a minute. What's in it for me?"

"I promise I won't turn you into Larry Ellison's bidet right this second."

"Okay, that works for me. Here's the word...disable."

"Disable what?"

"Disable Java support in Internet Explorer."

"You mean Microsoft's web browser won't run Java anymore?"

"That's right, brimstone breath. You want to run Java, give Netscape 50 bucks per seat and pray that IBM doesn't buy the company to merge Communicator with Lotus Notes."

"The Department of Justice will..."

"Will what? Punish me because I won't support a product my enemies want to use to destroy my company? Chevrolet dealers don't have to sell Fords. Pepsi's restaurants don't have to offer Coke. Why does Microsoft have to support Java?"

"It's an industry standard..."

"It's an industry hallucination."

"There will be a public outcry..."

"From who? Network managers? MIS? The CIO? They're up to their nosehairs in Cobol getting ready for January 1, 2000. To them, Java is still a cute word for coffee."

"What about all those spiffy applets on thousands of web sites?"

"Microsoft owns 100 percent of the Apple and Windows preload market for browsers, and our overall share has gone from zero to half in two years. It's a safe bet most people will soon use IE for web access. If they come to a site that doesn't work because of Java, they'll simply jump to the next one. Trust me, developers will switch to ActiveX faster than you can say 'Playstation.'"

"What about other platforms..."

"Like Intel has competition?"

"Interactive TV..."

"We call it WebTV in Redmond."

"Venture capitalists have invested billions..."

"To get a date with Kim Polese."

"Sun will write a plug-in..."

"Not without the hidden APIs."

"Of all my minions, you are my very favorite, Bill. You may stay."

"Thanks, Satan. Now, about that Exchange license agreement..."