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BEA brews Java tool bundle

The software maker launches a lower-cost version of its development tools that's intended to lure programmers to the company's server software lineup.

BEA Systems on Monday launched a lower-cost version of its WebLogic Java software suite that's targeted at Java programmers and software vendors.

The new software, WebLogic Workshop Professional Edition, lets developers build and deploy Java business applications. A paired-down version of WebLogic Workshop, first introduced last year, the bundle is priced at $995 and is available from BEA and software distributors. It includes an application server, a Web portal, integration software, data access tools and a development tool.

With the new bundle, BEA intended to offer a full-featured version of its software to programmers looking to build smaller applications at a relatively low cost, according to company executives. Applications written with WebLogic Workshop Professional Edition can only be used by five people.

By contrast, BEA's WebLogic Platform Edition, which can be rolled out to an unrestricted number of people, can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Appealing to developers with lower-cost, cutting-edge software is a top priority for BEA. Getting developers to use BEA's tools helps generate follow-on sales of more expensive Java server software. BEA is battling IBM and Oracle in the highly competitive market for Java server software suites.

BEA is on target to get a million developers signed on to use its software this year, said Cornelius Willis, the company's vice president of developer marketing.

Last year, BEA introduced other lower-cost product bundles. One of those bundles, WebLogic Platform Workgroup Edition is a version of its Java server software. Some of its high-end features are inaccessible, and its applications are limited to about 50 people.