Database titan Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) released a new version of low-cost database MySQL on Tuesday. Oracle is walking a fine line with the marketing of this release.

MySQL 5.5 Enterprise Edition is presented as a world-class database for production-class workloads. It comes with 24/7 customer support, beefed-up backup and monitoring tools, and fierce performance. Oracle claims up to 1,500% faster performance when running on Windows platforms compared with previous MySQL versions.

So far, so good. MySQL just got better, and the database segment of big-ticket acquisition Sun Microsystems wasn't left to die in the desert as some regulators and critics had feared. Oracle hasn't compared the open-source MySQL suite with truly enterprise-ready solutions such as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) SQL Server or Sybase ASE under new owner SAP (NYSE: SAP). Doing so would inevitably raise questions about why one would choose Oracle's namesake, premium database products over the open-source and much cheaper MySQL solution, right?

Yeah, but Larry Ellison just can't help himself. In the next breath, Oracle notes that MySQL Enterprise offers up to 90% cost savings over SQL Server and provides a cost calculator that shows an even wider price gap to Sybase.

That's a dangerous game to play, Larry. Now you've put MySQL up as a serious alternative to your own closest rivals, which implies that it's also comparable to Oracle Database Enterprise Edition. And that bad boy doesn't come cheap, either, being roughly comparable to Microsoft's licensing and support rates.

So what message are you trying to send here, Larry? You're running a real risk of customers taking it to mean that MySQL can also provide 90% cost savings over your bread-and-butter flagship line.

And the comedy of errors doesn't end there. Rather than pointing out this unintended conclusion, Microsoft spokespeople told Computerworld that SQL Server just isn't comparable to MySQL because it's a much richer environment. Microsoft missed a chance to poke fun at a bumbling competitor and instead chose to defend itself.

The actual fallout from these related foot-in-mouth episodes will likely be small, as it's a big deal to move from an established database format to another -- the squibs are more likely to affect designs of new applications or IT infrastructures. Still, I think this says something about how well Oracle thought the Sun purchase through, as well as how Microsoft is defaulting to defense over offense these days.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Microsoft, and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.