Microsoft unveils Y2K campaign

Are you wavering between downplaying Y2K worries and sounding like Chicken Little? Microsoft has bolstered its line of Y2K resource tools and announced new Y2K Web sites to help you be ready. The software giant announced a forthcoming consumer Year 2000 Web site, a revamped Y2K developer portal, customer workshops, extended product support, and updates to its Y2K Resource CD-ROM.

Are you wavering between downplaying Y2K worries and sounding like Chicken Little? Microsoft has bolstered its line of Y2K resource tools and announced new Y2K Web sites to help you be ready.

The software giant on Thursday announced a forthcoming consumer Year 2000 Web site, a revamped Y2K developer portal, customer workshops, extended product support, and updates to its Y2K Resource CD-ROM.

Slated for an early June launch, Microsoft's consumer Year 2000 Web site will offer prescriptive advice for analyzing hardware and software for possible Y2K problems. Visitors can also review personal data for Y2K compatibility using evaluation tools on the site.

The Microsoft Developer Tools Year 2000 Readiness Disclosure and Resource Center, designed for power users and system administrators, will launch May 10. That site will list Y2K resources by developer tool.

CD-ROM Updates

Microsoft's Y2K Resource CD-ROM, currently available with white papers and Excel plug-ins, now includes Y2K updates for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4.0 operating systems. Office 95, Office 97, and Works 4.5a are also covered.

While Microsoft encourages users to assess their preparedness using one of its Web sites, you can test your system offline with the Year 2000 Product Analyzer included on the CD-ROM.

The Analyzer scans your hard drive or mapped network drive and generates a Y2K-compliance report. Microsoft customers can subscribe to the quarterly CD-ROM for free by visiting the company's consumer Y2K Web site.

Microsoft also extended Y2K policy support through January 1, 2001, on 20 core infrastructure applications. Products covered under the policy extension include Exchange, Internet Explorer, Office, Small Business Server, SQL Server, and Windows. Customers can obtain support for date-related issues in all programming languages.

Developer Workshops

Microsoft will extend its Y2K campaign beyond the desktop with separate workshops for consumers and developers. Billed as data remediation workshops, the half-day seminars will promote Y2K planning and show how to use third-party tools to change two-digit dates to four-digit dates. Microsoft will also host a technical breakout session for developers during the Tech.Ed conference this month in Dallas.

With today's announcement, Microsoft has covered all of its Y2K bases. But is the company going overboard?

Despite assurances from computer executives that power grids won't fail and planes won't fall from the sky as the clock strikes midnight on January 1, many analysts distinguish between corporate preparedness and consumer vulnerability.

Corporate America may be on the fast track to Y2K readiness, but average consumers should still safeguard their desktops, says Dick Heiman, research manager for application development tools with IDC.

"It sounds like what Microsoft is doing will be beneficial to consumers," Heiman adds. "Y2K hype is certainly simmering down, but it is relative to something that was over-hyped to begin with."

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