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Oracle wants to take Net offline

The software vendor plans a new computing platform for mobile and remote users that allows them to run Net-based applications offline.

    Oracle wants to take the Internet offline.

    The Redwood Shores, California-based software vendor next week plans to announce a new Internet computing platform for mobile and remote users that allows them to run Internet-based applications offline. It is the latest in Oracle's long-running campaign to hype the Internet as the new computing architecture.

    The new platform, Oracle Extended Internet, is based on the recently announced Oracle8i database, which is designed for use with the Internet. The firm this week is also releasing a new version of its mini database, Oracle Lite 3.5, which is designed to allow users of mobile computing systems such as handheld PCs to run Internet-based applications offline.

    The new "extended Internet technology" platform is a cross between standard Internet and traditional mobile computing software systems. With standard Internet applications, users have access across the Internet or via intranet software stored on servers at a home or central office. Mobile computing requires that software be installed on both the user's device and on a server at the home office. Data must then be replicated between the two devices.

    But with the new platform, the applications are installed on the user's device across the Internet and can be managed remotely. Information is automatically synchronized on the user's device when he or she dials in to the system and the applications can be run while disconnected. The technology is also meant to allow content from Web sites to be loaded onto a remote or mobile device so that users can access and use the information from the Web site while disconnected.

    "Normally, when you use products over the Internet you are tethered to your desk," said Denise Lahey, Oracle's vice president of mobile and embedded products. "We are providing a product that extends the Internet to the users who don't want their phone system tied up."

    The product is targeted at telecommuters, remote offices, and mobile workers who have limited access to dial-in connections.

    The extended Internet product suite consists of Oracle Lite 3.5, a new Oracle Lite Web Server, and an extension for the Oracle8i database. The product set is to enter beta testing in November with general release scheduled for January. Oracle Lite 3.5 is available now and Oracle8i is set for release in December. No pricing was announced.