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Oracle answers critics with pricing guide

Oracle is to publish its definitive guide to software licensing at the end of this month to answer user concerns and criticism about the database giant's pricing regime.

The Software Investment Guide, a project headed by Oracle vice-president of global pricing and licensing strategy Jacqueline Woods, will be released several weeks later than promised.

Tighter budgets have forced IT buyers to focus on licensing, where the rules often seem "murky and cumbersome", according to Oracle. The company said the guide would help buyers to compare products and licensing options.

The guide, structured as a "how to" document, will provide key details on Oracle's pricing and licensing policies as well as licensing examples. Information on pricing for Oracle's support, outsourcing, consulting and education offerings is also included, Oracle said.

Oracle's licensing policies became a subject of debate this year after the company announced simplified flat-fee pricing for its 11i E-Business Suite of applications in January. However, users had to spend at least $250,000 (£162,612) to qualify.

In March, analysts from Gartner and Meta Group criticised Oracle's database sales tactics. Customers were being asked to pay more money because of a clause in named-user contracts.

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