After numerous delays, Microsoft Corp. last month released BizTalk Server 2000, the key application and systems integration middleware for its emerging .Net e-commerce platform. The final, “gold” code for the server was sent to manufacturing, where CD-ROMs will be pressed and then made generally available in the second half of this month. BizTalk is one of the foundation pieces of Microsoft’s attempt to recast its Windows operating system and applications as a platform for the Internet. The loosely defined effort is called .Net and was introduced in June.

Taking aim at Microsoft Corp.‘s .Net initiative, database giant Oracle Corp. last month unwrapped new products designed to help businesses offer applications and services over the Internet. Central to the initiative is Oracle 9i Dynamic Services, a framework that builds on Oracle’s 9i database products and allows companies to create Web pages that incorporate a variety of content, including corporate data such as e-mail and sales figures, along with services like currency converters, language translators and shipping services. Oracle also announced, an online destination where businesses will be able to build and configure their Web sites — or “business portals” — using Oracle’s software. Oracle will also offer to host those Web sites on its own servers, officials said.

A vendor group that’s targeting software piracy Wednesday issued a set of proposed business guidelines for online auction sites, a month after publicizing a sting operation that resulted in lawsuits against 13 individuals for allegedly auctioning pirated or counterfeit applications. Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement at the Washington-based Business Software Alliance (BSA), said the voluntary guidelines can protect buyers and sellers who use online auctions from the possibility of piracy-related legal action, in addition to benefiting software vendors. “We think this is an area where there should be a shared interest,” Kruger said. The BSA claims that more than 90 percent of the software sold on auction sites is pirated.