Microsoft competitor issues Excel Y2K warning

Microsoft's Date Fix Wizard may not permanently change two-digit year formats to four-digit year formats in Microsoft Excel macros and add-ons, Y2K software provider IST Development has warned, claiming that changed dates may revert back to two-digit years after files are placed in production.

Microsoft's Date Fix Wizard may not permanently change two-digit year formats to four-digit year formats in Microsoft Excel macros and add-ons, Boston-based Y2K software provider IST Development has warned.

An IST statement said that changed dates may revert back to two-digit years after files are placed in production. The reversion is caused by the operating system, an IST official said.

"The good news is that this shouldn't be a problem'' for users who only deployed Date Fix Wizard to change dates within the standard Excel spreadsheet format, said Joe Handy, CEO at IST. Handy said there is nothing about the format of a date in Excel that will suddenly cause a spreadsheet to fail at the turn of the century.

Where problems may crop up, according to Handy, are IT shops where users thought that Date Fix Wizard could solve the year 2000 problems associated with Excel macros or add-on modules.

"Other issues in macros, modules and selected functions may cause a spreadsheet to fail,'' yesterday's IST statement said.

Microsoft couldn't be reached for comment on Date Fix Wizard. But one analyst expressed suspicion over IST's findings.

"Obviously it is in IST's best interest to bash Microsoft,'' said Stephanie Moore, an analyst at Giga Information Group in Westport, Conn. IST sells its Year 2000 Remediation Workbench for Microsoft Excel product for $1,000. Microsoft's Date Fix Wizard is free.

Plus, she said, Microsoft's tool was never intended to fix macros in year 2000 remediation. IST's Handy doesn't dispute this.

"My guess is that IST is trying to boost sales as we close out the year ... to prove how much better their tool is than their competitor's,'' Moore said.

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