Oracle8i makes its debut . . .

Oracle's battle to weaken Microsoft's monopoly in the IT industry has intensified with the official release of its new flagship database and "Internet computing" platform, Oracle8i.

Launched simultaneously at the recent Adelaide and San Francisco annual Oracle OpenWorld conferences, officials claim Oracle8i is an environment for the development and deployment of applications that will become pivotal in the business intelligence and electronic commerce fields.

"It's not just a database," Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison said in a keynote address to delegates. "It's a complete, unified, extensible platform for running applications and distributing applications worldwide. The only things you need are Oracle8i and a browser - nothing else."

In addition to adding new features to handle the performance, business intelligence, and continuous access needs of Internet users, the company has extended Oracle8i's transaction processing, data warehousing, mobile computing, and high-availability features.

It will be available in four versions: Oracle8i, the basic database, which includes core features for most NT and Unix applications; Oracle8i Enterprise Edition, which adds several features and options for mission-critical online transaction processing and data warehousing applications; Personal Oracle8i, a single-user development database for NT, Windows 95, or Windows 98; and Oracle8i Lite, a lightweight mobile Java database that synchronises data on laptops and handheld devices with corporate databases.

Oracle8i and Oracle's Internet Platform suites are due to ship by December, with pricing starting at $US1475 for a five-user licence.

The company also announced a new version of its JDeveloper Java development tool and continued to evangelise the Linux platform.