Microsoft Gets Y2K

Microsoft will roll out a comprehensive series of products and services in the first quarter of 1999 designed to help companies perform year-2000 remediation on their IT infrastructures.

The series of products and services is due to be announced in mid-December, according to Don Jones, Microsoft's year-2000 product manager. The offering will include tools to fix problems at six levels including hardware, operating systems, applications, documents, custom code, and interfaces.

The Microsoft year-2000 tools that will be part of the offering will come from a number of sources, including internal Microsoft development, partnerships with third-party tool vendors, and perhaps acquisitions of third-party tool vendors, Jones said. Microsoft currently lists third-party year-2000 tools on its Web site but does not endorse those tools.

Microsoft plans to settle on the final best-of-breed group to include in its overall offering.

In addition, the services will include a seminar series that is due to begin in January, as well as some consulting services, Jones said.

Analysts said the package will be a very complete solution but questioned the timing of such a release.

"It looks like a comprehensive package, but they've been working at this for some time," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at the US-based Giga Information Group. "Most of us hoped they would be at this point a year ago."

It may be too late for many companies to begin fixing their year-2000 problem as late as the first quarter of 1999; Many users are well underway on fixing their year-2000 problem and won't need the Microsoft tools.

"We've had our Y2K effort underway for nine months," said one IT manager at a Fortune 500 company who requested anonymity. "The first quarter [of] next year is too late for us. But I'm sure there are some companies who haven't started yet."

For those who have not yet begun the process of evaluating, remediating, and testing year-2000 problems, however, the name "Microsoft" may carry enough weight to speed up tool and service purchasing decisions.

"Their efforts to date have been mediocre. But it's not to late," said Kazim Isfahani, an industry analyst at the Giga Information Group.

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