Microsoft will roll out a comprehensive series of products and services in the first quarter of 1999 designed to help organisations perform year 2000 remediation on their IT infrastructures.
The series of products and services is due to be announced in mid-December, according to Don Jones, Microsoft's year 2000 product manager. The offering will include tools to fix problems at six levels including hardware, operating systems, applications, documents, custom code and interfaces.
The Microsoft year 2000 tools that will be part of the offering will come from a number of sources, including internal Microsoft development, partnerships with third-party tool vendors, and perhaps acquisitions of third-party tool vendors, Jones said.
Microsoft currently lists third-party year 2000 tools on its Web site http://www.microsoft.com but does not endorse those tools: it plans to settle on the final best-of-breed group to include in its overall offering.
In addition, the services will include a seminar series due to begin in January, as well as some consulting services, Jones said.
Analysts said the package will be a very complete solution but questioned the timing of such a release.
"It looks like a comprehensive package, but they've been working at this for some time," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Giga Information Group. "Most of us hoped they would be at this point a year ago."
It may be too late for many organisations to begin fixing their year 2000 problems as late as the first quarter of 1999; many customers are already well underway and won't need the new Microsoft tools.
"We've had our Y2K effort underway for nine months," said one IT manager, who requested anonymity.
"The first quarter of next year is too late for us. But I'm sure there are some companies who haven't started yet."
For those who have not yet begun the process of evaluating, remediating, and testing year 2000 problems, however, the name "Microsoft" may carry enough weight to speed up tool and service purchasing decisions.
"Their efforts to date have been mediocre. But it's not too late," said Kazim Isfahani, an analyst at the Giga Information Group.
Due for release at the end of this year, the product also includes a year 2000 database with information on what software requires what type of fixes.