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Oracle aims Oracle8 for Linux at Microsoft NT

Deluged by Linux developer registrations, Oracle plans to turn the tables on Microsoft

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Oracle says it has received 20,000 Internet developer registrations for Oracle8 for Linux, which it shipped yesterday, in less than two weeks, and has made the clearest indications yet that it sees Linux as a vital weapon in its bid to head-off Microsoft's Windows NT. Oracle software is available on NT, and earlier this week the company revealed IDC data that showed Oracle pulling away from Microsoft in NT database licence revenues. But Oracle's revenues from NT are concentrated at the high end - enterprise-wide and ERP projects that arguably compete with Oracle's Unix software. The IDC figures show Oracle's NT revenues at 35.7 per cent of the market, while Microsoft fell back to 30.4 per cent. Unit shipments increased 21.1 per cent faster than Microsoft SQL Server, but Microsoft is still fairly new to the high-end enterprise market, and from Oracle's point of view it still represents a serious threat from below. That threat will take the form of the old Microsoft 'integration' gag, so although the fact that it's beating SQL Server is heartening for Oracle, the company's real worry is increasing NT sales. The more NT shops there are out there, the more likely companies are to switch to the applications that Microsoft says work best with Microsoft Windows networks - and on Oracle's turf, that's SQL Server. So Oracle is effectively grooming Linux as an alternative to NT that can be used to destabilise Microsoft in smaller businesses and at departmental level. Linux runs on the same commodity platforms as NT, and Oracle can therefore use Oracle8 for Linux to start challenging SQL in its current markets, while still retaining its hold on the larger-scale markets that Microsoft wants to pitch SQL at. A key aspect of this strategy will be support. Oracle will be offering a high level of support to users and developers in order to boost uptake, rather than just selling the product, and the number of development licencees it has on-board already gives it a flying start. Some edited highlights from the Oracle8 announcement give a pretty clear idea of where Oracle thinks Linux and Oracle8 are headed: "The Linux operating system... is a low-cost alternative to Windows NT. Linux is an example of 'open-standard' software that proponents believe will help to lower commercial software prices... 'When compared with Windows NT, Linux offers more stability, better performance, and increased security for Internet service providers,' said Arvind Jain, senior product manager at Oracle's Intel Technology Division... The availability of the Oracle database and application server, combined with the upcoming release of Linux-compatible Oracle Applications early next year, is increasing acceptance of this low-cost alternative to Windows NT in the developer and user communities... 'other than NT, Linux is the only UNIX platform experiencing growth today,' said Arvind." Clear? Meanwhile we note that our old friend Jeff Papows of Lotus has been telling the odd journalist (any journalist turning up to UK Technology Week this week has to be pretty odd) that he regrets that there will be no Lotus Notes for Linux for the foreseeable future. Papows' flair for publicity would seem to have deserted him for sufficiently long to blurt this one out - with everybody else in the world bar Bill loving Linux, he's suddenly elected himself as a Great Satan. But at the moment he's probably right, he just could have put it more diplomatically. Linux, despite support from Intel, Oracle, Informix et al, is still pretty early on its voyage into the enterprise, so while Notes for Linux might make sense (if you think Notes ever makes sense), in two years, there's not going to be that much of a market now. ® Click for more stories

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