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Welcome to the Year 2000

Before you start working again, and irrespective of any year 2000 preparation you may have undertaken, the first thing you should now do is check the date on each of your PCs. In the first instance, a huge number of problems are likely to arise simply from PCs that were unable to rollover to 2000 and may now say 1980 or 1994. Imagine the strife caused by dating invoices or letters with those dates!

To check your systems:

  1. Turn on each PC;

  2. Check the date; if it is wrong, change it to the correct date.

  3. Turn the machine off and go back to 1. (NB: It is important to turn the machine off, not simply reboot.)

You will probably find that some of your PCs failed to rollover and some succeeded. You should certainly find that, once set, each PC retains the date as 2000 correctly, unless you have any machines that are, say, more than about 8 years old. However, this is by no means the last testing you should undertake now that the year 2000 has arrived. Just because the world has not ended does not mean the year 2000 problem has been fixed. Many errors will arise from the interpretation of short dates such as 01/01/00 to the correct year. All of the patches and updates issued in the last three years almost exclusively relate to this.

So you should now take the following precautions:

  • Alter your system to display years with 4 digits (go to Control Panel, Regional Settings and change the date format to dd/mm/yyyy). [Note this will affect most programs but not all.] This will provide you with an easy way to check how your programs are dealing with 00 dates.

  • When entering dates into databases, spreadsheets etc, check that the program has correctly resolved the date you entered. For example, if you enter 1/1/99, did it resolve to 1999 or 2099?

  • Ensure your operating systems and applications are up-to-date. Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 all require patches to ensure correct operation. Likewise you should be using Service Release 2B of Microsoft Office 97 and Internet Explorer 5.0 (as opposed to IE 3 or 4). Microsoft Office 95 and Works 4.0 also have year 2000 patches. These patches are available from http://www.microsoft.com but if you require help or assistance loading them, please do not hesitate to call us.

Some Questions Answered

Q: Do I need Windows 2000 and Office 2000 to be compliant?

A: No, year 2000 updates are available for Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, Works 4.0, Office 95, Office 97 and many others by many vendors so you do not need to purchase major program updates simply to be year 2000 compliant.

Q: I set Windows to use 4 digit years but some programs still use 2 digits

A: Not all programs use the Windows date format setting. For programs that are "hard-coded" to use 2-digit years, consult the developer for information about how dates are interpreted and whether the program can be modified to use 4-digit years. But be aware that just because an application uses 4 digits does not mean it is “Year 2000 Compliant” and just because it does not use 4 digits does not mean it is "not Year 2000 Compliant". (sorry about all the double negatives!)

Note this is a BRIEF warning about the Year 2000 problems you are most likely to encounter in the immediate short-term. If you have not undertaken a Year 2000 audit you should still do so. If you have already conducted a year 2000 audit you should continue to be vigilante about the way your systems are behaving. The above is not intended to be exhaustive or complete advice about Year 2000 preparedness.

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