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Oracle gives developers .NET access

Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET 2003 development tools will be available to Oracle developers in a new deal pairing two vendors that are more often pitted against each other.

Oracle Corp. has signed onto Microsoft's Visual Studio partner program in a pairing that should make it easier and cheaper for developers to write Windows-based applications for Oracle databases.

In a press release yesterday, Oracle said it would release free software later this year for Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net 2003 development tools.

While developers have been using Visual Studio for Oracle database applications for years, the free software will make it easier and less expensive for developers to build programs for applications with cross platform appeal, said Dana Gardner, a senior analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group.

"There are plenty of areas where Microsoft and Oracle are very tenacious competitors, but end users are not particularly interested in incurring additional complexity and cost as a result of warfare between vendors," Gardner said. "Oracle wants more market share for its applications and Microsoft wants to build more simplicity for use of its tools, which drives more use of its platform."

Oracle leads the DBMS market in sales, while Microsoft's Windows operating system runs on most of the world's PCs.

By joining Microsoft's Visual Studio partner program, Oracle users will have as many as 400 tools available for building programs with Visual Studio .NET. Oracle becomes one of 200 participants in the program, according to Microsoft.

The partnership will not likely affect competition between the two companies. Oracle will continue to sell its own development tools, which support Java, and Microsoft will continue to seek a larger market share with sales of its SQL Server database management system, Gardner said.

Microsoft's agreement with Oracle is the latest in a series of partnerships announced by Microsoft. Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with SAP to help customers integrate SAP back-office systems with Microsoft's desktop applications.

SAP said the agreement with Microsoft was evidence of its commitment to Web services. Microsoft and SAP introduced a series of technology initiatives designed to leverage Microsoft's .NET environment, while using SAP's NetWeaver platform to connect SAP applications to Office and other Windows applications.

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