Some people think of Bill Gates as a godless, misanthropic, penny-pinching monopolizer. But not me. And I'm not talking about that airplane he bought himself last week, either. You might be surprised to learn that the Bill Gates I know is bailing out the Web, and possibly enriching countless struggling electronic publishers.

My first exposure to Gates, the Net philanthropist, came a few weeks ago, when the techies at Pathfinder noticed that the computers that serve up the Web versions of TIME, FORTUNE, PEOPLE, MONEY, etc. were behaving, well, drunkenly (my word). The sites were running even slower than is normal...

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