Oracle head sees future in networks

Personal computers will soon be replaced by network computers, which are simple and less costly, the head of Oracle Corp. said April 16 in Tokyo.

Lawrence Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle, described Microsoft Corp. as a monopolist who must for the first time deal with competition because of the dramatic growth in network computers — stripped down, low-cost terminal computers designed to be used with heavy dependence on networks. “I think because (personal) computers are so expensive and Windows is so complex and so unreliable that by the year 2000, the majority of machines being sold will be network computers, not personal computers,” Ellison said at a press conference at the start of the two-day Oracle OpenWorld 1997, which opened at Tokyo Big Sight. He said that sales of network computers are expected to total 100 million units worldwide in 2000.

To compete with Microsoft, Ellison recently expressed his willingness to purchase Apple Computer Inc. to expand its network computer system. Oracle plans to introduce a $500 network computer that focuses on network connections, as early as June.

Unlike personal computers, which are dominated by Microsoft’s operating system and Intel microprocessors, NC runs on Java-based applications and does not rely on a special operating system. Because software and data are administered centrally by an NC server, the NC reduces computer management costs by some 40 percent, Ellison said.

He also said that Oracle’s network computing system is compatible with Microsoft’s Windows applications. “It can run on any Windows application … You can turn your PC into an NC (by using Oracle’s system),” he said.