Oracle defines its Web, network computer strategy for users

Oracle head Larry Ellison has shown new network computer (NC) prototypes at the Oracle Users Group conference in Amsterdam this week and has announced that aerospace giant Boeing has given a huge vote of support to the NC concept by ordering a large quantity of the devices.

While Ellison did not offer details of the Boeing order, he has offered more specifics on NC hardware release dates, related software and development tools.

Ellison has also announced the immediate availability of Oracle Designer/2000 Web Server Generator, designed to allow developers to build applications for both client/server and Web environments. The Server Generator works with theDesigner/2000 family of data repository-based tools for modeling business functions and applications. The product runs on Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Windows NT and is priced at US$3995.

Ellison demonstrated several prototypes of NC devices, including:

An NC TV designed for Web access, interactive TV, video on demand, and electronic commerce.

An NC phone, offering a screen with a keypad for processing applications such as e-mail and using services such as directories.

A portable NC with flash memory capabilities.

Ellison has not specified the names of manufacturers who will be building the devices, though he says that a basic NC device will cost US$295 for a manufacturer to build.

Ellison says that a software reference platform for x86-based Intel processors is being developed. The reference specifications can be used to build NCs using Intel chips and to create software that will allow desktop PCs to act as NCs.

An Acorn Computer version of the NC, running on the ARM platform, will be released in September, Ellison says.

Called Acorn News Pad, it is a portable multimedia communications device. The computer's screen will b etouch-sensitive, allowing users to click on menu options with their fingers and to call up an on-screen keyboard to inputdata.

Acorn is adopting applications, including a World Wide Web browser written especially for Acorn machines, for use onthe tablet display.

Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., can be reached at http://www.oracle.com/.

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