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Microsoft introduces new database

Microsoft Corp., the world's biggest software maker, on Monday introduced its SQL database program in an effort to take market share from International Business Machines Corp. and Oracle Corp. in the $7.79 billion industry.

The SQL Server 2005 costs $5,999 for each processor and adds business-analysis tools and security features including data encryption, said John Montgomery, product management director at Microsoft. SQL's "all in one" approach doesn't require additional purchases, unlike IBM and Oracle, he said.

While Microsoft is the biggest provider of operating systems, the company has lagged behind IBM and Oracle in databases, which form the basis of information gathering. Microsoft had 20.1 percent of the market last year, trailing IBM's 34.3 percent and Oracle's 33.9 percent, researcher Gartner Inc. said. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., aims to use SQL to win corporate clients and will offer a free version, SQL Express, to students.

"It's about market share," Montgomery said in an interview. "It's important to have something for the largest enterprises and something for the students that are going to graduate from college with skills in something. We want those skills to be Microsoft."

Microsoft shipped 406,000 copies of SQL Server in 2004, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said Monday at a company event called "Ready to Rock" in San Francisco. This is the first major update of the database in five years and Ballmer, 49, told attendees Microsoft is working to shorten the "bake time" for new versions in the future. Intel Corp.'s CEO, Paul Otellini, joined him on stage.