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Tuesday, October 12, 1999 Published at 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK

Business: The Company File

Oracle calls for Microsoft break-up

Microsoft's Bill Gates says the PC still has a future

Larry Ellison, chairman of software developer Oracle, has launched a stinging attack on Microsoft, saying it had broken anti-trust laws and should be broken up.

The telecoms revolution
Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, is awaiting the outcome of an anti-trust lawsuit brought by the US government, which accuses it of abusing a monopoly position in the computer operating systems market - a charge Microsoft denies.

One of the options available to prosecutors, if Microsoft loses the case, is to split the company into a number of smaller businesses which would compete with each other.

Speaking at the Telecom 99 conference in Geneva, Mr Ellison said he would welcome such a split.

Mr Ellison said: "It is very simple - they broke the law and should be punished. They probably should be broken up."

The Oracle chairman said that his Microsoft counterpart, Bill Gates, believed the US Government did "not have the guts" to split the company because it feared the impact that sales of Mr Gates' stake in the company would have on the stock market.

He said: "Competition is a good thing. Everyone except Bill (Gates) thinks that."

Mr Ellison said that Microsoft's dominance of the computer market stifled innovation.

He said: "The problem with this model is that you can't innovate around the world.

"If you control the technology then you are the only one who can innovate."

He said the Internet revolution would undermine Microsoft's dominance by allowing people to use simple terminals linked to sophisticated servers via the Internet instead of more complex PC terminals which relied on Microsoft Windows operation systems.

Telecoms partnerships

Mr Ellison described PCs as "ridiculous devices", saying: "Just as the PC moved the mainframe off centre stage, the Internet has pushed the PC off."

Bill Gates, speaking at Telecom `99
However, Bill Gates, speaking at the same conference, said PCs still had a powerful future.

He said: "The PC continues to surprise the analysts. Not only has the price gone down and the volume gone up, but the power of the device continued to increase."

Mr Gates said developing new tehnologies, including wireless internet access via televisions and mobile phones, was dependent on strong partnerships with telecoms companies.

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