Microsoft unveils Y2K site, readies IE service pack

Only three Microsoft products are not year-2000 compliant, the software giant's millennium guru said while unveiling the company's Year 2000 Resource Center, but Internet Explorer has enough "minor" year-2000 issues to warrant a change in the way the company issues fixes.

As expected, the linchpin of Microsoft's renewed year-2000 effort is a still-ongoing review of the company's products for millennium compliance.

The Year 2000 Resource Web site, at http://www.microsoft.com/year2000/, also includes Microsoft's definition of year-2000 compliance, as well as third-party vendors' tools to deal with the problem.

Three Microsoft products - Access 2.0, Word for MS-DOS 5.0, and Office Professional 4.3 - are not year-2000 compliant, said Jason Matusow, Microsoft's year 2000 strategy manager. Office 4.3 Professional Edition is not considered compliant because it includes Access 2.0.

Most popular Microsoft products - including Windows NT Server 4.0, NT Workstation 4.0, Windows 95, and the Office application suite, from Version 4.0 to Office 97 - are "compliant with minor issues," Matusow said. Testing of Windows 3.1 is not complete, he said.

Those problems stem from Explorer 3.x and 4.x, which does not recognise cookies with two-digit years of "00," or Web servers that refer to a two-digit year of "00" in its HTTP/1.0 header, according to data on the year-2000 Web site.

Web browser Internet Explorer 4.01 has an additional problem -- the Microsoft Wallet online transaction software will not recognise credit cards with expiration dates in the year 2000 or beyond.

The browser's year-2000 bug was a key reason Microsoft has decided to issue upgrades and bug fixes for Internet Explorer in service packs, as it does for Windows NT, company officials said.

Service Pack 1 for Explorer 4.01 -- which in addition to the year-2000 tweaks will include individual fixes for minor problems Microsoft has learned of from customers -- will be released within 60 days, a representative said. The service packs will be released regularly, but not more frequently than once per quarter.

The offerings Microsoft has -- service packs and hot fixes -- are also listed, and are free of charge, Matusow said. The other categories are "not compliant," "testing for compliance," and "will not test."

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