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HatTrick faces uncertainty

Oracle's suite of Java-based productivity applets, code-named HatTrick, may need a new name.

Oracle's (ORCL) suite of Java-based productivity applets, code-named HatTrick, needs a new name.

Originally envisioned as a trio of separate applets--word processor, presentation graphics, and spreadsheet--Oracle's revised plans are more modest, with only one applet in the works that combines the word processor and graphics tools. The applet will be released in early May as part of Oracle's InterOffice groupware version 4.1, senior product manager Mark Bonine said today. InterOffice 4.1 was originally scheduled for first-quarter release.

The spreadsheet, which Oracle has earlier planned to release in the second quarter, has been pushed back until later this year. Bonine could not give a more specific time frame. Instead of a separate applet, the spreadsheet functionality will be integrated into the combined-functionality applet. When released in May, HatTrick's interface will reflect the integrated functions in one set of menu commands.

Pricing has not yet been determined, although Bonine is lobbying for Oracle to follow Netscape's browser strategy.

"My job is to get the HatTrick price as close to zero as possible," Bonine said.

Although Bonine said HatTrick would ship as part of the NC operating system, an Oracle spokeswoman later downplayed the importance of HatTrick to the nascent network computer market, citing numerous developers--including Corel and Lotus Development--that are working on Java and HTML-based software solutions for NC users.

Through its subsidiary Network Computer, Incorporated, Oracle is championing a return to thin clients and powerful servers as a more efficient alternative to high maintenance, high-priced PCs in the corporate workplace.