The big software story of the year was the completion of Oracle's purchases of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards in January, and its surprise acquisition of CRM market leader Siebel in September, which it bought for £3.24bn.
Users were left anxious about the cost of a potential forced migration to the latest version of Siebel's products, and whether products would remain supported by Oracle.
However, Oracle's response was to flesh out its strategy to support the acquired product lines, and combine them in the future into a modular application - Oracle Fusion. This new architecture, said Oracle, would be more responsive to business change and help firms to move to service oriented architecture (SOA).
Meanwhile, SAP integrated its Netweaver application server into its MySAP family of products, also aiming to help users implement SOAs. Over time, this should result in ERP and other enterprise systems that are more flexible and better able to accommodate business change than is possible today, said analysts.
However, Gartner research vice-president Andy Kyte warned that users should brace themselves to pay as much as three times the original cost of their ERP system to migrate onto the next-generation Oracle Fusion and SAP Netweaver architectures.
This year was also the year that Microsoft named Longhorn "Windows Vista" and gave developers details of the forthcoming Windows Server Longhorn operating system. Microsoft ended the year with a major upgrade to Windows Server 2003, and an overhauled Microsoft CRM 3.0.
But the rest of the year saw only minor releases for Microsoft, which put out Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2, with some security enhancements, and SP2 for its Office 2003 collaboration suite, again with security enhancements, as well as stability and performance improvements.
Microsoft also issued a further "final" update to its ageing Windows 2000 operating system after admitting a previous final update was flawed.