It may be the most interesting rhetorical question of the digital age: What does Bill Gates want? He already has $37 billion, worldwide fame and a company that is growing 20% annually. Once you get past the snappish answer of Silicon Valley wags--"Everything"--you have a diverting fin-de-siecle parlor game: guess Bill's agenda.

Gates is up for the contest. And in your parlor too. He believes that the next interactive revolution will arrive via your TV set and a very high-speed connection to the Internet--possibly over cable-television wires. That's not the way the geeks thought it would happen--they're desktop-computer riders. But the...

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