See Gates Lobby

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WASHINGTON: Microsoft finally figured it out: Power in the nation's capital isn't about right and wrong. It's about making nice. So Bill Gates ended months of petty bickering with Justice by stuffing his saddlebags with money and riding into Washington Monday on his best white horse, determined to give his empire an image makeover in the only town where it really needed one.

Gates lolled around in the office of home-state senator Slade Gorton, chatting with reportersbefore TV cameras. He met for over an hour Monday with Orrin Hatch, who is leading the grilling of Gates and other software kingpins Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He threw a few scraps to Internet service providers, allowing them to promote other browsers as heavily as his own.

With his bitterest rivals flanking him at the witness table and the ornery Hatch on the dais, Gates will take a lesson back to Redmond: Washington, D.C., is full of lawyers just as tough as Microsoft's. The bully act doesn't work here. But a cherub-faced software salesman with $40 billion? He ought to do just fine.