Top PC brands fail tests for Y2K compliance

Top-of-the-line PC systems from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and Micron have failed a year 2000 compliance test conducted last month by US magazine Federal Computer Week, a sister publication of Computerworld. Of six systems tested, only Intergraph and SMAC Data Systems had a compliant real-time clock (RTC) in the CMOS chip.

Top-of-the-line PC systems from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and Micron have failed a year 2000 compliance test conducted last month by US magazine Federal Computer Week, a sister publication of Computerworld.

Of six systems tested, only Intergraph and SMAC Data Systems had a compliant real-time clock (RTC) in the CMOS chip.

The CMOS chip runs the real-time clock, which gives time and date information to the BIOS. Most motherboard CMOS chips are based on a 1984 IBM AT specification which allowed for a 99-year calendar clock.

Most software programs make calls to the system BIOS to get time and date information.

However, some vertical and a few consumer applications get their time and date information directly from the computer’s CMOS/RTC. These programs will fail unless the CMOS/RTC has been updated for year 2000 compliance.

The six systems tested by Federal Computer Week were all 450MHz Pentium 11s.

Also last month, UK PC Dealer reports that the British Advertising Standards Authority has told Compaq it should not claim its computers are millennium-compliant.

This follows a protest to the ASA from Prove It 2000 that Compaq’s real-time clock would not roll over.

An ASA representative is reported as saying the recommendation has yet to be voted on by the ASA council.

Compaq in New Zealand had no comment to make at press time.

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