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Oracle has tossed customers a Microsoft-like bone by loosening up its software licensing restrictions for low-end servers running on multi-core chips.

Those of you brave enough to follow Oracle's licensing maneuvers know that the company has tended toward counting processor cores rather than server sockets. A recent change of heart now has Oracle's Standard Edition and Standard Edition One software using the per socket basis favored by a number of large software makers. This pricing shift should save customers purchasing multi-core processor-based servers some cash.

The low-end Standard Edition database, for example, can be used on systems with up to four sockets with no extra cost for processor cores. Standard Edition One can be used on systems with up to two sockets under the same guidelines.

Oracle has made this policy retroactive - a rare concession for the hard-bargaining database maker.

(You can see all the licensing ins and outs in this PDF.)

The new licensing terms put Oracle on similar ground to Microsoft and should make the company more competitive in the lower-end of the database market.

Of course, Oracle still uses a bizarre method of calculating per-core licenses for its other software products.

For example, it considers an eight-core UltraSPARC T1 processor from Sun Microsystems to count as two processors in per-processor licensing schemes.

Oracle has been forced to rejig its licensing policies on a number of occasions as it grapples with the various multi-core chips hitting the market. ®

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