Controversy has errupted over a Melbourne company's claims that most PCs currently sold in Australia do not comply with the Standards Australia Year 2000 compliance rating.
Richard Smythe, managing director of IT service provider PC Resq, alleged that PC hardware from major manufacturers, such as Acer, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Compaq, fails to meet the SAA/SNZ MP 77 HB 121 Level 3 compliance.
The HB121 standard ensures the operating system, basic input/output system (BIOS) and Real Time Clock (RTC) are all capable of functioning correctly during the roll over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000.
"Some of the machines that are sold in Australia, mainly from major manufacturers, don't have fully compliant RTCs. They rely on software or a BIOS correction to remedy the Real Time Clock non-compliance," Smythe said.
"You can test machines sold at major retail stores and you'll find that most of them are not fully compliant to that standard. They claim to be Y2K compliant in accordance with NSTL standard, which is a US-developed standard by National Software Testing Laboratories (NSTL), but NSTL does not test the functionality of the Real Time Clock, so the RTC could be non-compliant and the computer will still pass the test of Y2K compliance."
While Standards Australia Level 3 compliance is not crucial for tasks typically required by home users, mission critical applications cannot afford any time and date instability that RTC non-compliance is likely to cause.
"We've got examples here where the health network in Victoria has been supplied PC machines under contract to Compaq and got the machines that are NSTL compliant, which is only Level 2 compliance, " Smythe claimed.
"They are mission critical and they have potentially life threatening situations to think about, so they should be Level 3 compliant, because they cannot simply reboot their machines at the roll over or experience the time and date instability."
PC Resq has lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is expected to investigate the matter further.