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Monday, March 11 12:01 AM EST

Vatican Endorses .NET Messenger Service

By Brian Briggs

Vatican City - Starting in March Catholics will only be able to speak to God using .NET Messenger Service from Microsoft. "God was really impressed by Microsoft's .NET framework," said the Pope. "God didn't feel comfortable working with Yahoo! Instant Messenger or AIM. He also mentioned that Linux was the devil's desktop."

Analysts fear that even an endorsement from God might not be enough to overcome the problems with .NET include competition from arch rival AOL. "AOL isn't sitting still, they have already announced a deal with the Methodists and Hindus," said Todd Brown of CS First Boston.

Initial reaction from beta testers has been very positive. "I tried it out down at the church," said Gena Howard, "I didn't think I got the right God but Father Tom said that GoD5867 was the real one. I thought it was strange though that God needed my credit card and social security numbers. Shouldn't he have already known that?"

Worshippers of other faiths including Apple users were upset by the news. "I don't think I'm comfortable with one company controlling all communications with God. I'm afraid the Catholic church may use this power to convert other religions to Catholicism," said a worried Mac user.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, denied that any pressure would be put to bear on nonbelievers, "Microsoft is not trying to change your religion, but I wouldn't be surprised if you noticed raining frogs the next time you started using ICQ."

The Vatican denied any quid pro quo with Microsoft, but sources did report seeing the Pope sporting a new Popemobile.

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