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Oracle Keeps Microsoft on its Toes in Trial

Oracle keeps turning an unwelcome spotlight on Microsoft during an antitrust trial that is supposed to have Oracle in the hot seat.

U.S. Justice Department regulators are seeking to block Oracle's $7.7 billion bid to buy enterprise resource planning software rival PeopleSoft. Government regulators contend the enterprise sector of the ERP market only has three competitors -- SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle -- and competition would be undercut if Oracle bought another of the big three.

Oracle is countering that Microsoft and Lawson Software are nosing into the high end of the market. Government regulators contend that Microsoft has no plans in the next few years to focus its ERP software sales efforts on anyone outside the small-to-medium-sized businesses it currently targets.

Two weeks ago, Oracle forced Microsoft into the uncomfortable position of acknowledging it had entered merger talks with SAP. Those talks late last year ended before getting very far, according to SAP.

This week, Oracle detailed the number of times its ERP software sales teams have come up against Microsoft in software deals. According to The Associated Press, the Oracle sales documents show Microsoft and Oracle competed at 94 companies looking to buy ERP software in 2002 and 2003. Eight of the deals were for the business of large organizations, where government regulators and Microsoft claim Microsoft's software doesn't play.

Microsoft Business Solutions executive Douglas Burgum was scheduled to take the stand at the antitrust trial in San Francisco on Wednesday.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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