LAB NOTES

Novell’s novel ways. As Microsoft Corp.
promotes Windows 98’s out-of-the-box 2000 readiness and patches Windows NT for the
century change, Novell Inc. is taking a more low-key approach on date code preparations.


The LAN software vendor expects to complete testing all its products by mid-1999 as
part of its own audit of internal infrastructures, computer-related and otherwise.


Like other software vendors, Novell has advised its users that the best way to guard
against date code system failures is to update all software to the latest versions. Across
the industry, any last-minute patches are going to be aimed primarily at the newest
products on the market—not those that are three or four years old.


If your agency’s network still has a NetWare 3.x server hanging around,
Novell’s advice—and that of the GCN Lab staff—is to upgrade within the next
six months. Otherwise, your reliable, stable server may turn on you come 2000.


A swing and a miss. Microsoft’s history has been
spotty when it comes to upgrades and patches. NT 4.0 took three service packs to become
truly stable, and Windows 95 also went through a number of service releases.


Historically speaking, the good news has been that after two or three tries, Microsoft
usually gets it right.


Now Microsoft Office 97 is in the hot seat along with users of its suite applications,
which are standard at many agencies. The recently released Service Release 2 came with the
usual claim of fixing all the quirks. But it reportedly is not delivering as promised for
Microsoft Office applications that date from mid-1997 or earlier.


Evidently, the installed presence of the original versions of Office applications will
send Service Release 2 into digital conniptions.


No recognition. Even if you managed to install Office
Service Release 1 successfully, Service Release 2 may not recognize that SR-1 has been
applied. Dealing with this variety of installation issues on a single product is
unacceptable.


Microsoft recently pulled the Service Release from its Web site. There is no word yet
when an updated patch will be available. Microsoft was forced to pull the patch when the
full extent of the problem was realized.


The company at first denied the installation problem even existed but recanted after
finishing its own testing.


SR-2 mainly addresses problems in Excel and Access, and may not be needed by everyone
in your organization.


Do not plan to upgrade every agency user’s PC to SR-2, only those affected by the
bugs that SR-2 fixes.


To find out just what bugs the patch fixes and when it will be available again, point
your browser to http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/.


—Jason Byrne
jbyrne@gcn.com 

inside gcn

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