Symantec has jumped on the year 2000 bandwagon with the release of its new Norton 2000 tool. But Norton 2000 offers a dimension to year 2000 preparation lacking in most other packages - data file scanning.
I've tested and implemented a variety of year 2000 tools, but Norton 2000 is unique in its ability to test your data files. It will search through spreadsheet and database files for error-prone data fields and notify you of problem areas.
But the product isn't complete yet, and won't be until later this year. In the rush to get Norton 2000 on store shelves in 1998, one key feature - application scanning - had to be postponed. If you buy now, you will have to upgrade later (for free) to get all the functionality.
Norton 2000 addresses three areas of the year 2000 issue. The first issue is hardware. Included is a utility that will test the BIOS of all your computers. This capability is common among most year 2000 applications, and Norton 2000 offers no advantage here. The second issue is software, and Norton 2000's application scanner, though not yet in the product, will tell you which applications on your computer are year 2000 compliant. It does this by scanning your hard drive for recognised applications and comparing the results with a database of applications. This is also a common feature found in many other year 2000 solutions.
This database will be constantly updated by Symantec, and you can upgrade using Norton's LiveUpdate utility. LiveUpdate is currently used by Norton AntiVirus to update virus definitions, and in the same fashion can keep your application database current.
The third issue addressed by Norton 2000 is the data. It will scan your data files and search for date fields that may be problematic.
This capability, unique to Norton 2000, provides a tremendous benefit to users and companies whose day-to-day business operations are based on their data.
Norton 2000 limits its data file searches to spreadsheet and database files. Obviously, there are many other applications, including vertical and home-grown applications with various file formats. For these, Norton 2000 includes an Unformatted File Scanner (a generic text date scanner), which can be customised.
There are two versions of Norton 2000: a corporate edition and one for the small office/home office (SOHO) or retail market.
Norton System Centre
The only difference between the versions is a utility called Norton System Centre (NSC). NSC snaps in to Microsoft's Management Console. This centralised management console for Norton 2000, Norton Antivirus, and upcoming software releases from Symantec, lets network administrators perform common management tasks.
I installed Norton 2000 on my Windows NT server and on a Windows 98 workstation. After an effortless installation, I pointed the program to the My Documents directory, where I have a large, deeply nested directory structure filled mostly with Microsoft Word, Excel, and database files. It took just over a minute to scan 150MB worth of documents and display the results. The report is expandable, allowing you to drill down and see specific errors. A link will open the document in question, allowing you to view the actual data causing the error.
Once identified, it was clear which of my database and spreadsheet files had to be updated.
Norton 2000 is a great tool for the SOHO market, or any company that uses spreadsheet and database applications extensively. This product is simple to install and use, helps pinpoint and remedy potential problems, and covers all your bases, not to mention your behind.
The Bottom Line
Symantec Norton 2000
This is a comprehensive year 2000 solution for big and small companies that can test and remedy hardware, application, and data-file issues relating to the year 2000. However, it's not a complete solution yet, because it currently lacks an application scanner.
Pros: Easy to implement; checks hardware, applications, and data for year 2000 compliance.
Cons: Lacks application scanner; works mainly with spreadsheet and database data files.
Platforms: Windows 3.x, Window 95, Windows 98, Window NT 3.51 or later.
Price: Pricing available on request.
Tel (02) 9850 1000