Hoax claims 60 second Y2K fix

With all the paranoia about the Y2K bug, it's no surprise that hoaxes and snake oil fixes are starting to appear. The latest e-mail hoax is a quick fix that once applied, should make Windows 95, 98 or NT, Y2K-compliant -- all in about 60 seconds.

It's as simple as changing the date setting on your PC, claims the hoax.

First, select Start-Settings-Control Panel and then Regional Settings. Click on Date and go to the Short Date setting, which appears as dd/MM/yy. According to the hoax, this will cause the rollover date to appear as 00, instead of 2000. To prevent this, select the date short date format as dd/MM/yyyy (or type in the addition y's). The hoax claims dates will now magically rollover to 2000 instead of 00, and your operating system and software are now Y2K-compliant.

No such luck. Changing the setting will only affect the way the date is displayed on your screen -- it has nothing to do with the way Windows processes dates.

Microsoft advises that dates are stored and processed in a four digit format regardless of the short date format style selected in Regional Settings.

If you're not convinced, try an experiment: change the short date format to just "dd" (no month or year). Applying the logic of this hoax, your PC won't even be "month" compliant, but strangely your system clock in the bottom right of your screen still seems to know the month and year.

Microsoft, which normally ignores hoaxes, has taken the rare step of refuting the quick fix at http://www.microsoft.com/y2k/hoax/y2khoax.htm. To find out what you need to do to make Windows compliant, see http://www.microsoft.com/y2k.

Windows 95 and 98 Y2K fixes, and the latest service packs for Windows, are available on PC World's cover CD each month.

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Scott Mendham

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