Microsoft is a competitor, Oracle insists

An Oracle white paper has insisted that Microsoft is a competitor for its HR and financial services software business.

An Oracle white paper has insisted that Microsoft is a competitor for its HR and financial services software business.

The paper was distributed the day before a top Microsoft executive is scheduled to testify to the contrary in the US government's case to block Oracle's takeover of PeopleSoft.

The case hinges on the definition of the market for high-end human resources and financial management applications. The government argues that an Oracle-PeopleSoft merger would stifle competition, resulting in higher prices, because Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP are the only options for buyers.

Oracle says there are numerous other competitors, including Microsoft, the world's largest software maker. Its white paper says Microsoft already competes and will become an even bigger foe once it has rebuilt its applications onto a single code base, an effort known as Project Green.

The white paper was written before the revelation at the beginning of the trial two weeks ago that Microsoft had approached SAP late last year for a possible takeover. Those talks ended several months ago after Microsoft decided the deal and the post-union integration would be too risky.

Oracle lawyers said Microsoft's talks with SAP were evidence of the competitive nature of the business software market but the US Department of Justice said Microsoft's overture shows it is not an enterprise application software player and that there is a high barrier to entry.

Microsoft senior vice-president, Doug Burgum, is the government's final witness in the case today. Burgum, who heads Microsoft Business Solutions, is expected to testify that Microsoft is aiming for small and medium-sized businesses, not the large and complex enterprises to which SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft sell their products.

Oracle argues not only that Microsoft plans to sell to larger businesses, but that it already does so. The white paper lists several multibillion-dollar, multinational companies that use Microsoft software to run their businesses.

Microsoft began edging into the ERP market by purchasing Great Plains Software in 2000 and Navision in 2002, companies which were combined to form Microsoft Business Solutions.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Services

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