Oracle sprang a surprise last week when it announced plans to offer an operating system to compete against Microsoft's Windows NT Server.
At its Oracle Developer Conference in Paris, the company said it was working on a network computing operating system, dubbed the NC Server.
It could be released as early as the first half of next year.
In his keynote speech, Oracle chief Larry Ellison suggested that computer networks should be treated in the same way as utility networks such as the telephone and the water supply where individuals are not responsible for their management. "Some people have their own wells, but God help them," Ellison joked.
He poured scorn on NT's complexity. "According to Microsoft, NT has more lines of code than MVS - they're saying, look at us, we have a mainframe OS." He also suggested that NT is difficult to configure. "Have you ever tried putting NT in a school ... give me a break."
NC Server will run on Intel-based hardware, NT's primary environment.
It will be sold as a pre-configured software package which includes the Oracle database.
Users will not be able to tailor the software to suit individual requirements in the same way you can NT. Instead, NC Server will offer a fixed set of network services and a standards-based environment for supporting thin clients and network computers. According to Oracle, this will make its system easy to set-up.
The software will also include an http Web server, support for IIOP for accessing distributed application services, and the SSL3 security standard.
The operating system will also be used as a permanent store for all files. For example, Oracle Hattrick applications would be stored on the server and downloaded by users to their NCs.
Although NC Server will not have all the features of the Microsoft operating system, Ellison claimed it will be faster than NT at plugging NCs into a networked system.
Microsoft disputed Oracle's claims that NT was complex. Mark Hassall, NT Server product manager, further said the company has a track record in developing server operating systems going back eight years. "Dave Cutler, inventor of VMS at Digital, was brought into Microsoft to build NT."
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