Microsoft wakes up to Y2K problem

Microsoft wakes up to Y2K problem

Microsoft, thought by many to be a sleeping giant on the year 2000 issue, will awaken this week to unveil its strategy for dealing with millennium problems in its products.

Although Microsoft will not offer specific tools to help users cope with year 2000 issues, the software giant will offer a version-specific product guide that rates the year 2000 com-patibility of its Windows, BackOffice, Office, and Visual Studio products.

Yet considering the havoc that the year 2000 bug can wreak and how widespread Microsoft's products are, many believe the software giant is doing too little too late.

A welcome hand?

"Is Microsoft doing enough? No," said Brian Jaffe, director of network and client services at Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing. "As the world's leading software vendor, they should be working the hardest on this problem, as well as communicating to the user community."

For some, any help avoiding year 2000 catastrophes is welcome.

For example, although Visual Basic has been year 2000-compliant since Version 4.0, developers must know to code applications with the problem in mind and use proper date formats and functions.

One analyst said the late arrival of Microsoft's year 2000 strategy is perceived by some as a way to encourage users to upgrade to the forthcoming Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0, which are both year 2000-compliant.

"The message they were projecting to customers, maybe not intended, was, "We're not really sure if there is a problem in Windows 95 or Windows 3.1, but to be sure why don't you buy our new product, Windows 98?'" said Tom Oleson, an IDC analyst.

Microsoft has made some year 2000 patches available. One patch updates two command-line commands in Windows 95's COMMAND.COM and WINFILE.EXE to support four-digit years. The other addresses the "semicolon problem" in Windows 3.x and Windows for Workgroups, which displays post-2000 dates as "1/1/;0".

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