Oracle to start free software trials over the Internet

Oracle has announced that it has made full-strength versions of its database software available for free trial on the Internet.Users can now can click on 'trial products' on Oracle's World Wide Web site to download the software for a free 60-day trial.

Oracle has announced that it has made full-strength versions of its database software available for free trial on the Internet.

Users can now can click on "trial products" on Oracle's World Wide Web site at http://www.oracle.com/ to download the software for a free 60-day trial, Oracle officials said. Companies using the software after 60 days must pay for the programs, which cost up to $US100,000, officials say.

Though selected Oracle software and tools have previously been available for trial over the Internet, making most of it available this way is a departure for the company.

Oracle realised that the Internet is a "vast pipe" through which Oracle products can be disseminated, says Dan Berkowitz, a spokesman for the company. "Why not make total use of it?"

Among the software available for free trial is Oracle 7, Web Application Server 3.0, and enterprise development tools, including Developer 2000, for client/server application development, and Designer 2000, a modeling tool, Berkowitz says. Oracle 8, the next version of the company's relational database management software, will be available for trial on the Web once it ships at the end of June, he says. The software will not contain a "time bomb", which disables the product after the trial period.

Oracle's enterprise applications, for human resources, financials, distribution and manufacturing, will not be available for trial on the Web, Berkowitz says.

But one observer calls Oracle's move more marketing ploy than innovative sales approach, because of the size of the software. According to Oracle estimates, downloading Oracle 7 with a high-speed Internet connection would take an hour. Small businesses won't have the high-speed connection necessary to download the softare, and large companies would simply ask Oracle for a test copy, according to Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with International Data (IDC).

"It's really more of a marketing tactic than a real opportunity," Kusnetzky says. "Would a corporate IS department go to the Web [to download Oracle software]? I doubt it."

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