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January 13, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Filling in the final major element in Microsoft Corp’s promise to offer MS-OS/2 users a complete alternative to the networking and database facilities in the works from IBM for its own version of OS/2, the company yesterday announced agreements with Ashton-Tate Corp and Sybase Inc to create an SQL Server database product for use by a local network of MS-OS/2 and MS-DOS micros. The announcement, which anticipates IBM’s announcement of a database for its own OS/2 users, seems to ensure that there will be two rival standards in the OS/2 world. That hardly looks an attractive situation from IBM’s point of view, and underlines yet again that Microsoft leads a charmed life in its dealings with Armonk. The database technology is coming from Ashton-Tate Inc, which will be developing a new version of dBase, while Sybase Inc, Berkeley, California will supply the SQL interface. Under the agreement, Ashton-Tate will take a licence to SQL Server from Microsoft and market it as Ashton-Tate/Microsoft.

Customers will be able to buy SQL Server by itself or in combination with a future version of dBase. Microsoft will license SQL Server on an OEM basis to hardware manufacturers: it will provide database services to network users and will be usable with dBase or with other workstation software. SQL Server is described as an open platform architecture and Microsoft and Ashton-Tate will encourage third-party software developers to write applications that take advantage of its multi-user database services. The partners reckon that SQL Server will provide the basis for transaction-oriented systems, including accounting systems, document libraries, inventory management systems and other mainframe-type applications. It is claimed to offer a unique client/server approach that splits a database management system cleanly into a front-end component where data is manipulated by end-users or applications, and a back-end component where data is stored and retrieved. It features stored procedures, which are compiled by SQL Server to accelerate speed of storing and retrieving data. An advanced transaction-oriented DBMS kernel makes the database constantly available for administrative tasks and maximises transaction throughput, so that performance seen by an individual user stays virtually constant as users are added to the network.

It will also provide a technology bridge between on-line transaction processing systems and micro databases so that dBase applications can transparently access SQL Server. SQL Server runs on any OS/2 system-based network server, including those with the Microsoft OS/2 LAN Manager – developed in partnership with 3Com Corp to match IBM’s promised networking products – and the IBM LAN Server. Ashton-Tate plans first ships of SQL Server to users in the second half of 1988. It says it will decide pricing for it in the second quarter.

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