In a bid to become the Microsoft of the Internet age, software giant Oracle is set to announce its plans for a future of Web-based software services. The company, which has been taking potshots at Microsoft, SQL Server, and the .NET strategy for months, will unveil a competing system that corporations can use to deliver software over the Web using the Oracle 9i database and application server. Oracle's plan, in many ways, is less dramatic than Microsoft's .NET strategy, because Oracle has always promoted a form of computing that revolved around big servers and thin clients. Meanwhile, Microsoft's biggest successes have come on the desktop, where it's so-called Windows "rich clients" have secured dominant market position. The difference between Oracle's vision and .NET is that Oracle doesn't see the continuation of the Windows monopoly as a requirement. Oracle says that non-PC devices such as Internet terminals, Web pads, digital personal information managers such as Palm devices, and cell phones will become much more important in the connected future than PCs, which have become unmanageable and complex. But Oracle's plan will likely have some similarities with .NET, including a reliance on XML, the new standard for exchanging data over the Internet. XML helps competing products, created for different platforms, to communicate seamlessly. Thus, even Oracle's vision and .NET will likely interoperate without any explicit cooperation between the two companies.