How The Year 2000 Will Affect You

Most of you have already read many comments on the Year 2000 (or "Y2K") problem. We have been telling our clients that this was primarily a problem with mainframes using older COBOL programs and that most businesses with PCs using DOS and Windows programs did not need to be concerned. However, lately we are beginning to hear that problems may indeed exist--although thankfully not requiring billions of dollars to fix.

The Y2K problem may occur at several "levels" of a PC.

  • Level 0 Hardware/BIOS
  • Level 1 Operating System (DOS, Windows 95, OS/2, etc.)
  • Level 2 Network Operating System (NetWare, LANtastic, etc.)
  • Level 3 Application Software (Word Processors, Spread Sheets, Accounting, etc.)

For you to sail smoothly into Y2K, ALL levels must be Y2K compliant, since each level depends on all levels below it.

So far, we are aware of the following problems:

  • Level 0 In many PCs, even relatively new ones, the Real Time Clock does not correctly transition to Y2K without manual action such as rebooting or explicitly setting the date. Usually, once this action is performed the PC is fine.
  • Level 1 None, so far.
  • Level 2 The following network operating systems are not Y2K compliant: Novell NetWare versions 4.10 and earlier, as well as several versions of Novell's client software; LANtastic versions 6.1 and earlier, version 7.0 for DOS, and LANtastic for OS/2. Patches or upgrades are available to fix some of these problems.
  • Level 3 No significant problems, yet, for mainstream applications. However, the Windows 3.1 File Manager, for example, reports file dates incorrectly starting with the year 2000.

What can you do? Some simple testing can give you confidence that Y2K will not be a problem for your system. CAUTION: we highly recommend that you have a full backup of all your PC(s) before testing! Also, if you have programs with expiration dates you should contact the manufacturer before attempting this test.

Set your PC's clock to 11:58:00 p.m. on 12/31/1999. Wait several minutes and then exercise your critical programs to verify that dates are handled correctly. Specifically test calendar, scheduling, voice mail and financial programs. Remember to reset the date and time when you are done testing!

A final word to the wise: even if your system is OK, verify that your suppliers, financial institutions, insurers, etc., will not have a problem with the year 2000 that could impact your ability to do business.

February 1998

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