Ellison to Microsoft: Your software is too complex

Oracle's chief executive takes aim at his favorite punching bag, deriding Microsoft's software as too complex and once again predicting the demise of PCs.

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LAS VEGAS--Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison took aim at his favorite punching bag Monday, deriding Microsoft's software as too complex and once again predicting the demise of PCs.

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Ellison shares his vision: custom computers
Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

In arguing for simplicity in computing, Ellison announced that Oracle and Compaq Computer plan to release a new, easy-to-use appliance that companies can use within their computing infrastructures to speed the delivery of their Web sites.

The product is part of a family of Oracle appliances that have built-in software, a processor and an operating system--basically an all-in-one product aimed at rendering the Windows 2000 business operating system unnecessary.


Meta Group says despite CEO Larry Ellison's prediction of the decline of the PC, consumers still need to run their base applications locally, and the primary platform for doing that is the PC.

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his Comdex keynote speech Monday night, Ellison called for the need for simple, easy-to-use products in the computing infrastructure as well as for desktop computers.

With many software companies moving their software off PCs and making it available via the Web, the importance of the PC is diminishing, Ellison said.

"The PC is becoming a network computer; it's turning into an appliance," Ellison said. "The only thing left is a browser, Microsoft Office and some games. The only thing new and interesting (on the PCs) are the games."

Ellison's speech was in direct contrast to the speech delivered Sunday by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who called for a greater role for PCs in the future.

Oracle, Sun Microsystems and others have long envisioned a future where every computing device, from cell phones to personal digital assistants, can access software via the Web--and all the data can sit on back-end servers.

Hoping to protect Microsoft's Windows operating system franchise, Gates argued for a more balanced approach, where large amounts of data reside on servers and powerful desktops are needed to sort and interpret the data.

Ellison said Monday that Oracle and Compaq plan to release a new appliance in December for its recently released application server, software that runs transactions for e-commerce Web sites. Ellison added that Sun and Hewlett-Packard will soon announce plans to release appliances that run Oracle's application server.

As reported earlier, Oracle is planning a new wave of appliances for the newest versions of its database and e-commerce software. Oracle next year expects to release a new appliance for its forthcoming 9i database, software that stores and collects information.

The new products are Oracle's second foray into the emerging market for server appliances, special-purpose computers that handle specific jobs, such as storing data or handling email. They are designed to be cheaper, easier to use, and simpler to manage because they come as an all-in-one system.

"If the appliance model made sense on the desktop, it makes even more sense on servers," Ellison said.

During a news conference before the keynote, Ellison said Oracle's appliances are a better alternative to building a computing infrastructure by gluing together Windows 2000, Microsoft's e-commerce software and computers.

In touting Oracle's products, Ellison said the computing industry is behind other industries, such as car manufacturing and clothing, in building its technology.

"We don't Comdex 2000: 
Back to the futureamake on-the-rack clothes," Ellison said, complaining about the computing industry. "We only make custom clothing."

As attendees entered the convention hall for the speech, Microsoft distributed free mugs that touted Microsoft's databases as having record-breaking speed performance and poked fun at Ellison's recent $1 million challenge. Ellison last month guaranteed that Oracle's database and e-commerce software would run three times faster than rival offerings from IBM and Microsoft--or he'll give customers $1 million.

Ellison scoffed at the mug during the keynote and showed a demonstration of Oracle's products running faster than Microsoft's technology.