NEW YORK—Determined to circumvent Justice Department action forestalling the release of his powerful new operating system, Microsoft CEO and evil genius Bill Gates dropped Windows 98, coded into liquid form, into New York City's water supply sometime this past weekend.

Bill Gates reveals his sinister water-contamination plan to his legions of Microsoft underlings.

"Excellent," said Gates, watching his scheme unfold on a 30-foot video screen deep within Microsoft's Redmond, WA, compound. "Everything is going exactly according to plan."

Doctors say the risk to New Yorkers who consume Windows-tainted water is considerable. "As little as three ounces of water can carry the entire Windows 98 installer file into the drinker's cerebral cortex," said Dr. Terry Braithwaite of New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital. "Once this insidious operating system enters a person's brain, it may take years to fully rebuild his or her original neurological programming, and even then, old files can remain in their memories for years."

According to New York water commissioner Glenn Portnoy, the Susquehanna and Catskill reservoirs were contaminated with the software in question late Saturday night, rendering 100 percent of the city's taps Windows-compatible only. Those living in any of the city's five boroughs, Portnoy said, are now at risk of having the system installed in their bodies by drinking, cooking with, or even showering with New York City water.

"Residents of New York!" said Gates in a televised address early Monday morning. "Some of your neighbors, your friends, your own family members have not yet joined us in operating within our glorious system. Why not? Is something affecting their judgment? Are they perhaps... thirsty?"

"Water," Gates added. "The source of all life."

Gates then emitted a sinister, high-pitched laugh and faded out, returning televisions across New York to their regular programming with the push of a button.

The Gatesignal looms over the Manhattan skyline.

Justice Department officials said they plan to come down hard on the software giant for its latest controversial move. "Not only is tampering with a major metropolitan area's water supply illegal," U.S. attorney Joel Klein said, "but mass, involuntary bio-installation of operating-system software is a gross violation of federal antitrust law."

Klein said Microsoft has also taken steps to prevent rival Netscape from placing its web browser in New York's reservoirs, an act he said may constitute a further illegal monopolistic trade practice. If found guilty of dispatching winged Microsoft henchmen to block Netscape's access to the reservoirs, Microsoft may face fines of up to $670 million.

Gates refused to respond to the allegations, but spoke directly to the people of New York via Microsoft's Windows 98 brainwave transmitter, saying, "Command priority reformat unit sub-Klein-delete//DELETE: A-Priority." Klein's whereabouts are currently unknown.

Despite Microsoft's tainting of their water supply, New Yorkers seem relatively unfazed.

"There is nothing wrong with having Windows 98 in my body," said a glassy-eyed Queens woman identifying herself as "7398473289348390-98.01." "Windows 98 is good. Where do I want to go today, O Gateslord?"

Added the woman: "Invalid sector error Type-41."