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Multi-Vendor Y2K Site: Too Little, Too Late?

Eight months before the clock rolls to triple zero, a group of PC OEMs has created a Y2K information site aimed at SOHO, small, and medium-size offices. The site,, has a clear, non-technical explanation of the Y2K problem, a FAQ file, compliance information, and links to the vendors' Web sites where testing software can be downloaded. What it lacks, however, is something that can't now be added: an extra year of exposure.

The site is the result of the PC Year 2000 Alliance, an OEM group that includes Acer, American Megatrends, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Phoenix Technologies and Toshiba (with support from ClickNet, Intel, Microsoft, NSTL and Symantec). The cornerstone of the site is the Year 2000 Personal Computer Compliance Specification (v. 1.0), which describes, in layman's terms, what the Y2K problem is, what its effects on the PC are (in hardware and software), and the changes that some PCs require in order to achieve compliance. While the spec is targeted at the average user, it does assume a fair amount of existing PC knowledge. Still, most technical terms are well defined and the document itself is clear and concise.

It is worth noting, however, that the spec does not offer any new information or requirements; it simply formally documents "generally accepted practices that already exist as they relate to the year 2000 and the Personal Computer technology." The intent of the site is to provide a central place where PC owners can find compliance information, though users with PCs from vendors not in the Alliance will have to be satisfied with general Y2K links.

The site lacks any information specific to particular system modes, though it would probably be asking too much for it to provide such data. What it does do is link to several compliance-testing Web sites, and it recommends NSTL's YMARK2OOO test utility as its compliance checker (available at

In general, the site's content is helpful. Its main problem, though, isn't content but publicity: how many non-technical users will be able to find it? If, as many experts predict, Y2K will most seriously affect not large companies (who have been working on fixes, for years) but small and medium offices, the URL needs to be plastered on billboards, not just discussed in the trade press.
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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event
Author:Piven, Joshua
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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