Manufacturer Elonex is considering legal action against US-based software company Award over a year's supply of BIOS chips containing a fault.
US Award BIOS engineer Dave Coffin admitted to PC Dealer last week that some of the company's product contained a fault dubbed the 2094 bug, which affects Award BIOS released between 26 April 1994 and 31 May 1995. When 1999 ends, the PC will respond to built-in instructions designed to beat the millennium bug and roll forward to 2094.
In response to a user's plea to Award for help by email, Coffin wrote: 'Award made a defective product four years ago and Unicore (now a division of Award) will make a lot of money fixing it - provided people are happy to spend $70 to save an old 486 motherboard.'
Coffin later told PC Dealer that users should 'rip the chip' from the computer, post it to Award with $69.95, then fit it again when they get a replacement.
Jim Jervis, head of Euromax, creators of Year 2000 fix and diagnostic tool Millennium Buster, was astounded by the response after his staff discovered the bug during compliance work for client Viscose Closures.
He said: 'The average user is not a microelectronics engineer capable of unsoldering a BIOS chip.'
David Amos, MD at Viscose Closures, wants Elonex to sort out the problem, which exists in nine 486 PCs Viscose bought in 1994 to help run the distribution end of the company. 'I don't know what the implications are. How will Excel perform on computers like this?' he said.
Amos pointed out that while the 486s still did the job they were bought for, he was now faced with a repair job costing £40 for each.
'I can't see how Award can justify this,' he commented.
A representative at Elonex claimed the manufacturer was unsure how many of its 100,000 machines sold that year contain the Award BIOS. She said Viscose could work out a solution with the technical department but it was unlikely Elonex would wind up paying. 'If there is a defect, Elonex will be talking with Award's lawyers,' she stressed.
CRN pulls out the key information from Microsoft's Q4, which took the vendor above $100bn for the year
Investment will include an AI research centre in London
John Coulston outlines Rackspace's plans to partner with the channel in the UK
Chris Bunch of Microsoft partner Cloudreach gives his take on this year's Inspire conference