Sun Microsystems has warned businesses running important software on Microsoft Windows 95 or NT 4 that they face major problems with year 2000-compliance.
In an exclusive interview with PC Dealer, Tony Hampel, director of Sun's year 2000 programme office, said: 'Windows 95 and NT 4 users face major problems. Nobody cares if Word on a laptop is not compliant, but in mission-critical applications it is crucial.'
Although Microsoft is expected to build compliance into Windows 98 and NT 5, users will be forced to pay to upgrade and have less time to get ready and test their systems in order to be compliant.
According to analysts, the majority of small and medium-sized businesses have not considered the year 2000 problem.
Big business, enterprises and government departments, which are spending heavily on ensuring compliance, often rely on Unix-based systems that are less prone to year 2000 problems. Smaller companies often base business processes on Windows 95 or NT 4, which Microsoft claims are year 2000 ready.
Analysts at Giga Information Group have expressed concern at Microsoft's year 2000 stance, saying that its efforts to become aware of millennium problems are negated by its statements claiming it is year 2000 ready, which is not the same as being compliant. Giga said Microsoft UK was leading the US headquarters in year 2000 work.
The problems are amplified because companies need to ensure there are no year 2000-compliance conflicts between their applications, hardware, networks, operating systems and custom data.
'Sometimes you don't have to upgrade everything,' Hampel said. 'You can leave the OS alone, for example, if your application never pulls date data from it, and maybe upgrade later. We don't see enough education on the repair, replace or upgrade issue.' Microsoft was unavailable for comment.
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