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Oracle's Internet embrace growing

The scope of Oracle's Net gambit becomes clearer as more details of the company's flagship Oracle 8i database emerge.

REDWOOD SHORES, California--The scope of Oracle's Internet gambit became clearer, as more details emerged about its Oracle 8i database software update, scheduled to roll out next week in New York.

The newest version of Oracle's flagship product will be able to store Web pages as well as word processing files, spreadsheets, and multimedia thanks to Oracle iFS (Internet file system), company executives said today. The software maker is touting this capability as "store once, use anywhere."

Oracle 8i will also feature a "WebDB," which will enable the software to run entirely within a standard Web browser. It will be the first Web development environment to do so, the executives said.

As previously reported, the update adds features to better host applications, messaging technology, a Java virtual machine, and additional Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) interfaces. It will also offer better support for parallel hardware architectures and better overall reliability, according to the company.

The database update further includes support for Enterprise Java Beans and offers developers a programming bridge called "SQLJ," which provides links between Java code and traditional relational data.

Currently in beta testing, the update is slated to ship by the end of the year. No pricing has been announced.

As if the emphasize the Oracle's affinity for the online medium, the "i" in 8i is said to stand for Internet. "Larry [Ellison, Oracle's chief executive] decided that since the Internet has become so important, he wanted to emphasize that angle in the product name," an Oracle representative previously told CNET News.com.

But Oracle is also riding a trend among its corporate customers and systems integration partners toward Internet-linked applications and away from classic client-server configurations.

The whole of the Oracle 8i marketing pitch will be delivered to several hundred development partners next Monday. But ironically, the company's database has had something of an identity crisis in recent months: What Oracle is now calling Oracle 8i has also been called Oracle 8.1 and was code-named Emerald in the past.

News.com's Jai Singh contributed to this report.