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June 6, 1997


Oracle to launch NCs in India

The network computer, a cost-efficient alternative to the personal computer, will soon be introduced in the Indian market by Oracle Software.

"The applicability of the $600-1,000 network computer in the Indian and Chinese markets, where the cost of a personal computer is still prohibitive for many, is immense," Chairman and managing director of the Indian arm of the $4.2-billion Oracle Software, Anil Kaul, has said.

Seeking to grab a slice of the global PC market, currently dominated by the Microsoft Windows and Intel chips, the US-based Oracle has pioneered the concept of the NC to be supported by Sun and IBM in the venture.

The ease of maintenance and the low cost of the NC are expected to be the twin attractions of this computer.

The introduction of the NC underlines "Our commitment to enabling the information age" in India, Kaul asserted.

Conceding the vital role of the PC in the evolution of the information technology industry, Kaul stressed it is now time for "leaner and meaner" user-friendly machines, with access to the same processing power as the PC.

In an NC environment, the processing power, application software and memory is concentrated at a central network server, with the user accessing applications on demand.

With operations in over 90 countries, Oracle is the world's largest supplier of software for information management.

Even while pointing out the "negatives" of the PC, in terms of higher cost and problems of maintenance, Kaul did not predict the demise of the PC. "Though PCs will continue to offer use and value to a small number of users, the mega market is going to be that of the NC," he asserted.

About 80 per cent PC users work with just 20 per cent of the functions offered by their PC. A part of the investment on computers is thus "wasted", he said.

Citing the already established networks in the corporate sector and the many public sector units, Kaul said that the companies would only have to make moderate investments in the NC hardware and the Oracle software (server and operating system) to increase the number of users.

With the country committing itself to a tenfold increase in computer penetration to 10 per cent, Kaul is confident of a "big NC market" in India.

Microsoft chief, Bill Gates, who was in India earlier, had aired his doubts about the viability of the NC. The total cost of owning a network computer, which Gates dubbed as a "dumb terminal", including the associated telecommunication costs, exceeded those of the personal computer, which is more reliable, he had claimed.

Rejecting the notion of the NC being a dumb terminal, Kaul emphasised that the "Network computer is an intelligent device. The intelligence is, however, loaded from the central network server".

- Compiled from the Indian media

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