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Microsoft, Oracle debut Web tools

While Bill Gates is busy wooing corporate developers with Microsoft's latest tool bundle, Oracle launches its new tool, aimed squarely at the software giant.

While Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is busy today wooing corporate developers with his company's latest tool bundle, long-time rival Oracle is also trying to turn some heads with a new tool aimed squarely at the software giant.

Microsoft today announced the shipment of Visual Studio 6.0, a new bundle of the company's business software development tools, including Visual Basic and Visual C++.

Meanwhile, Oracle is attempting to steal some of Microsoft's limelight by showing off a new tool that it says is much easier to use and isn't limited to the Windows operating system.

As previously reported by CNET News.com, Visual Studio 6.0 includes Visual C++ 6.0, Visual Basic 6.0, Visual InterDev 6.0, Visual FoxPro 6.0, and Visual J++ 6.0, and is intended to be more enterprise-friendly than previous versions.

Microsoft has added a new version of the tool bundle, Visual Studio 6.0 Enterprise Edition, which includes data integration and team development features.

The reworked bundle also for the first time works with business application software from SAP and Baan, and includes tools for working with Oracle's database software, an indication that Microsoft intends to be a more visible player in the enterprise space.

But Oracle isn't exactly welcoming Microsoft to its neighborhood. A company executive said today that Oracle plans to launch next month a new Web-based tool called WebDB that will be tightly linked to Oracle's database for rapid development of Web business software.

WebDB runs completely within a Web browser and resides in Oracle's Oracle8 database server, said Jeremy Burton, vice president of tools marketing at Oracle.

Burton said he thinks the tool will appeal to the growing numbers of less experienced developers tasked with assembling departmental-level Web sites and intranet applications.

"It's specifically for line-of-business applications where there are no dedicated Web masters," Burton said.

One potential advantage of WebDB is that it is completely housed within the database, meaning that all application administration can be performed centrally, on a single server. That can also simplify version control and deployment issues.

Oracle has not set a price for the new tool. Burton said it will enter beta testing next month and will ship in November.

Microsoft said Visual Studio 6.0 is priced at $1,079 for the professional version, and at $1,619 for the enterprise edition. Upgrades from previous versions are priced at $549 and $1,079 respectively.