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April 8, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:49pm

ORACLE VIEWS MICROSOFT WEBTV BUY AS CLIMB DOWN ON NC MODEL

By CBR Staff Writer

Kenny MacIver reports from Vienna

Executives at Oracle Corp, the industry’s most vocal supporter of network-centric computing, have interpreted Microsoft Corp’s agreed $425m acquisition of WebTV Networks Inc as an embarassing climbdown by Bill Gates. Speaking at the Oracle European User Group Conference in Vienna, Ray Lane, chief operating officer of Oracle, said that Microsoft’s suprise announcement was further evidence of the company’s growing conversion to the network computing model. With this profound, dynamic move, Microsoft has finally acknowledged the existence of network computing and the thin client. It is finally joining the pronouncement made a year and a half ago, he said. His words were echoed by Oracle’s server technologies division head, Jerry Held, who suggested to the 4,500 Oracle users and prospects attending the conference that Microsoft’s move was evidence that the company had now accepted that thin clients – in the form of the set top box design of WebTV – were equal to, or better than, personal computers in some applications. Microsoft has endorsed an idea that they thought foolish a year ago, said Held. Further vitriolic attacks on Microsoft are expected Tuesday evening when Larry Ellison, chief executive officer of Oracle, jets in to deliver the keynote speech of the conference. However, one face was unexpectedly missing from the Vienna extravaganza -Steve Jobs last week canceled his keynote appearance. Some Oracle executives questioned whether his absence was prompted by Ellison’s recent revelation that he is considering putting together a consortium to buy Apple Computer Inc, where Jobs is now again a key strategic influence. Others suggest that Jobs may have been angered by Ellison’s public statements on Apple. But Ray Lane suggested Jobs got cold feet because he now sees himself outside of the computer industry, preoccupied with the computer animation activities of Pixar Inc. Lane also acknowledged Jobs was busy with his role at Apple.

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