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Oracle to ship groupware for NC

Oracle will ship its InterOffice groupware package and use it to promote its NC standard.

In an effort to compete with Microsoft's Exchange Server and Lotus Development's Notes, Oracle will ship its InterOffice groupware package next week but will also try to use it as another way to promote its Network Computer standard.

Oracle's recently announced Network Computer Reference Platform has been endorsed by more than 15 companies, but none of the hardware manufacturers signed on to make the NCs have yet shipped any of the stripped-down boxes, which will be used primarily for the Internet and priced around $500. And while IBM and some others say they intend to aim their NCs at the corporate market, many potential customers are skeptical about how useful these machines will be.

With Internet boxes from several manufacturers due out in the second half of the year, Oracle hopes to make its branded Network Computer more attractive by embedding client access to InterOffice into the read-only memory.

The server-based InterOffice package, which entered beta testing earlier this year, includes email access, directory services, Web-publishing tools, workflow management, and Java compliance. The company has not yet set pricing for the software.

The move is calculated to both encourage the use of InterOffice server for building intranet applications and to bolster the NC as a corporate client. Oracle is also expected to provide personal productivity applications resident on the NC, including a lightweight database, scheduling, calendar, word processor, and spreadsheet.

The company is renaming the InterOffice Server applications suite that includes its Universal Database, Web Server, and connectivity tools. When it ships this summer, the new name will be the Oracle Universal Server Suite to eliminate confusion with next week's InterOffice groupware package.

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