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Oracle defrosts EC concerns over Sun takeover

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The European Commission has welcomed a series of promises made by Oracle about the future of the MySQL database, all of which could signal that the company's planned $7bn takeover of Sun Microsystems may now get the all-clear from regulators.

"Today's announcement by Oracle of a series of undertakings to customers, developers and users of MySQL is an important new element to be taken into account in the ongoing proceedings," said Brussels' merger officials in a statement.

"In particular, Oracle's binding contractual undertakings to storage engine vendors regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension over a period of up to five years of the terms and conditions of existing commercial licences are significant new facts."

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes reiterated an earlier comment that she was "optimistic that the case will have a satisfactory outcome, while ensuring that the transaction will not have an adverse impact on effective competition in the European database market."

Oracle said earlier today that the company had had “constructive” talks with the EC, which had previously opposed the planned takeover of Sun Microsystems, even though US competition watchdogs had already given it the thumbs up.

Larry Ellison's company said it had responded to the concerns raised by the Commission over the “maintenance of MySQL as a competitive force in the database market."

As a result, Oracle said it would “publicly commit” to making MySQL’s storage engine APIs available to vendors. It also declared a number of licence promises including “non-assertion” and “to enhance MySQL in the future under the GPL”.

Oracle added that support would not be forced on customers, who wanted to obtain a commercial licence to the database.

A final legal deadline for a decision on the Oracle/Sun Microsytems deal is 27 January 2010, said the EC.

Meanwhile, The co-creator of MySQL, Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius, issued what might be interpreted as a last gasp attempt to convince people to oppose Oracle’s proposed multi-billion dollar takeover of Sun Microsystems.

Monty wrote a long missive on his blog at the weekend in which he once again gave a vote of no confidence to any suggestion that “Oracle will be a good home for MySQL.”

He called on MySQL fans to help save the database "from Oracle's clutches." The database Daddy's comments also preempted Oracle's and the Commission's statements today.

"With your support, there is a good chance that the EC (from which Oracle needs approval) could prevent this from happening or demand Oracle to change the terms for MySQL or give other guarantees to the users," he wrote.

"Without your support, it might not. The EC is our last big hope now because the US government approved the deal while Europe is still worried about the effects."

Well Monty, it looks like you might just have got what you wished for after all. Or did you? ®

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