Win95 users have a few 2000 worries—after all

Microsoft Windows 95 users will have a closer shave with the year 2000 than expected.
All current versions of the leading desktop operating system, it turns out, lack patches
for several date-related items.


Microsoft Corp.’s Web site recently notified users that Win95 “remains
compliant with minor issues,” with or without downloadable updates. Most of the
company’s other OSes are considered 2000-ready, if free downloadable patches are
applied.


But Win95 OSR 2.5, the most recent version, has 13 date-related issues: from simple
problems such as Feb. 29 dates showing up in nonleap years to major Object Linking and
Embedding database problems—for example, 01/01/01 being translated as Dec. 30, 1899.


Officials of Microsoft and Electronic Data Systems Corp. have denied a trade press
report published late last month that EDS plans to upgrade 100,000 user desktops to
Windows 98 because of Microsoft’s belated admission that Windows 95 cannot be made
year 2000-ready.


The article generated confusion among Windows users, including Stuart Greenfield, an
analyst in the Texas Office of the Controller of Public Accounts, who shared
Microsoft’s response with GCN.


Don Jones, Microsoft product manager for year 2000, denied that Win95 users need to
upgrade to Win98.


“Microsoft has not advised EDS or any other corporate customer to change its year
2000 strategy for Microsoft operating systems,” Jones said.


He said the EDS chief information officers services group has distributed the facts
regarding Win95 readiness and is sharing them with government and corporate customers.


Win95 users should evaluate the effect of the minor problems on their environments
before deciding to migrate to a new OS, Jones said.


Microsoft will, however, provide a Win95 software update downloadable from its Web site
in the next several weeks, to resolve the outstanding problems, he said.


For many organizations, Jones said, the year 2000 issues are so minor that an expensive
upgrade or even patch installation makes no sense. For others, the update patch is the
only software they will need, he said.


Jones said Microsoft will fully support an in-place upgrade from Windows 95 and Windows
98 to Windows 2000 Professional when it becomes available. The current release date for
the new desktop OS is sometime after Jan. 1.


The in-place upgrade will retain all user settings and applications, Jones said. But
customers will need to do more extensive testing, “primarily due to application
integration and device integration issues,” he said.


Microsoft has released a utility to test year 2000 readiness of its own installed
products.


Users can download the Microsoft Year 2000 Product Analyzer from
www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/pca/pca.htm.


The 484K utility examines all Microsoft products, including the OS. Results appear
along with Web uniform resource locators for applications that need an update or patch.


In brief tests in the GCN Lab, however, the utility failed to take note of already
fixed year 2000 problems. For example, last month’s update for Win98, which replaces
the Java Virtual Machine with a year 2000-ready version, had already been applied on the
lab’s test PC, but the Product Analyzer indicated the new virtual machine still
needed to be downloaded.


With the virtual machine patch, Win98 meets Microsoft’s year 2000 readiness
standards. Microsoft also has said Windows NT 4.0 is ready if Service Pack 4 has been
applied.  


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