Wanting to keep my options open, I'm investigating other database products besides my two specialties, Microsoft Access and SQL Server.
So I registered at Oracle and downloaded the Oracle 10g database, technically it was the 10201_database_win32.zip. I unzipped it, and found autorun info -- so I burned it to a CD and then ran the install from there.
The install process was quite uneventful. Other than the fact that it told me it was installing 114 products (!) and that it needed a fixed IP address. I run DHCP on my network, but the install instructions included how to set up a "Microsoft loopback adapter" so that also went well.
However, in the cold light of day, this product is definitely intended to run solo on some serious server hardware -- I was running it on a PC-class Pentium 4 with HT at 2.8 GHz with 1 GB of RAM on Windows XP Pro SP-2 -- the Windows Task Manager shows the database itself consumes 200-250 Megs of memory, java.exe another 45 Megs, and a half-dozen other services; the paging file hovered around 500 Megs with a gig of installed RAM! And this was with the database idle. On this same machine, SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition consumes around 25 Megs in the background, growing to 200-250 Megs under very heavy usage.
Luckily, the Oracle Universal Installer was able to deinstall all of the products without any intervention, after which I removed the loopback adapter; and back to normal paging.
Next -- waiting for SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition, scheduled to arrive around December 19. Just in time for Christmas :-)