Oracle chairman Larry Ellison pre-announced the company?s network computer (NC) strategy at its OpenWorld user conference this week to underscore his belief that Microsoft had finally bought into the NC concept since buying WebTV at the weekend.
The announcement was supposed to be made on 15 April at OpenWorld in Japan, but Ellison changed his keynote speech while flying into Vienna on his corporate jet, unable to restrain himself from crowing over Microsoft?s apparent policy U-turn.
?I?d like to thank Microsoft for their endorsement of the NC. Microsoft?s chief technology officer had said he would adopt NCs over the dead bodies of Microsoft, so it?s time to start digging for bodies in Redmond, Washington,' he proclaimed.
'In fact, Microsoft has announced four totally different NCs - the NetPC, Windows CE, the WinTerm Windows terminal and WebTV,' he went on. 'They?re all different and they?re all proprietary. Thank you for your support, but you still don?t get it.'
He added that the whole idea of the Internet was to implement technology based on open standards, which, of course, he claimed his NC was. Ellison described his offerings as a family of four low-cost digital appliances, priced at between $300-$800.
The NC client itself is based on 133, 200, 233MHz Intel and Acorn ARM chips and will run the NCOS, which comes on a read-only CD-ROM, complete with Netscape browser and Java Composer Views to enable users to download and run Java applets.
This software is not installed on the hard disk to prevent viruses and reduce network traffic, but is read directly from the CD-ROM. It also comes with a multimedia, video-based interface for ?just-in-time-learning?.
This means that when users log onto a corporate network or the Internet using a smartcard, they are given a video training course on how to use the system. All news and help information is also presented in video format.
Ellison said that customers could use any PC with an Ethernet card as the application server to the client NC. This would also run the NCOS, but the server version would include the company?s InterOffice messaging technology for e-mail and Web Forms, which is a Java-based engine, due next month, that will run Java-based applications. The Oracle database will store all e-mail, audio, video, text and wordprocessing documents and will be managed by the Oracle Documents document management system.
The NCOS costs $50 per user at the server level and $30 per client. It has a real-time microkernel to enable real-time multimedia and is based on so-called ?Plan E? Unix.
But, users will not be able to programme to it or develop applications for it because none of its application programming interfaces are exposed.
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