The message of reassurance seemed to be unequivocal. Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison told PeopleSoft customers that, in the event of the successful takeover of PeopleSoft, their product would be fully supported. "We're going to over-support the PeopleSoft customers," he said. "We intend to finish PeopleSoft 9, and we're going to do as good a job on that as we know how."

So far, so good, But the next lines would not have been so welcome. But after PeopleSoft 9, he said Oracle would take both products' development teams and build a functionally-merged product.

The problem for PeopleSoft customers however, is that this statement directly contradicts Oracle president Charles Phillips' comments, two days earlier, that "customers can expect two separate [applications] tracks." Phillips said Oracle would never merge the PeopleSoft and Oracle code bases.

So, any PeopleSoft customers looking for guidance as to what would happen if Oracle's $9.2 billion takeover bid succeeded would be left feeling rather confused.

In an attempt to repair any possible damage, Ellison made clear he was discussing long-term plans: "It won't happen overnight," he said. However, Oracle's clashing statements indicate how hazy the future is for PeopleSoft customers if their vendor is purchased by its bitter rival.

Oracle executives have repeatedly expressed confidence in the technical superiority of their software. Customers who upgrade, post-acquisition, to the Oracle-built successor to PeopleSoft's applications will get "a dramatically better product", Ellison said.

Still, he portrayed the acquisition as advantageous to Oracle and its customers as well. "We're going to invest more in the applications than Oracle or PeopleSoft could have done alone," he said. "We're going to give SAP a run for their money in this business. To do that, we need more customers and more engineers."

Additional reporting by Stacy Cowley, IDG news service