Oracle counters Microsoft with own shipping news

The database software maker counters its rival by shipping new software for building Web-based services.

Oracle's message to Microsoft: Two can play in the Web services market.

The database software maker as expected countered rival Microsoft on Monday by shipping new software, called Oracle 9i Dynamic Services, that builds such Web-based services as currency translation, claim processing and travel booking. The software is included at no extra charge with Oracle's database software.

Oracle joins a long list of business software companies delving into the Web services area. Microsoft announced its Microsoft.Net plan earlier this year. Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and IBM are also making the shift to selling software for developing Web services.

Like many of its software rivals, Oracle envisions a future in which people don't have to install software on their PCs or Internet access devices. Instead, they will be able to access the software through the Web as a service, avoiding installation, maintenance and upgrade chores.

To realize that vision, Web site developers need new tools. Oracle said it will make available to developers two free tools for building and distributing services based on Oracle's database software. The tools, called Oracle Portal Online Studio and Oracle Mobile Online Studio, build portal and wireless applications.

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Oracle sets sights on
Joshua Greenbaum, analyst, Enterprise Applications Consulting
Oracle will offer the portal service free for three months. Afterward, the company will charge $100 for each gigabyte of disk space used.

At a press conference Monday, Oracle executives poked fun at Microsoft's .Net strategy, whose products are one to two years away from being released. Oracle executives, who are calling their products, ".Now," say their products are available immediately.

"This is not about vision. This is not about future strategy. This is about what is available today," said Mark Jarvis, Oracle's chief marketing officer.

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