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NT4 not Y2K safe thanks to delayed patch

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Microsoft is attempting to play down allegations that the CD version of Service Pack 4 (SP4) for Windows NT 4 might not see the light of day for another three months. SP4 is the missing link in making NT 4 year 2000 compliant, any delay in its release could have dire consequences for anyone planning to install it and then run Y2K checks on their systems. The SP4 CDs had to be re-cut after a ruling in the Java court case prevented Microsoft from shipping any products with Java technology for another 12 weeks. SP4 is available as a download from the Microsoft Web site. However, at 32.7MB, this is not an option for many users who will still be waiting for the file to finish downloading as the year 2000 kicks in. The Register was contacted by one Microsoft customer who said he had been told that the CD was not available for at least 12 weeks. To verify these claims, The Register contacted the Microsoft Connection customer services helpline and was given the same information: "It's been delayed because of the Java court case and won't be available for around three months." Letters should be sent out this week informing customers, according to the Microsoft Connections personnel. But Microsoft UK's official representatives –- and assorted doctors of spin -– were at pains to silence such claims. "There is no delay. Not at all," said Francis Reay, Windows product marketing manager in the UK. "All the modifications have been made." But what about the customer advice from the customer advisors? "There has been an internal communications breakdown," came the reply. Ain't that the truth. Anyone doubting that a delay in the release of SP4 CDs could be serious, should direct their gaze to the Microsoft's own Web site. According to the site: "SP4 prepares the Windows NT 4 platform for year 2000 compliance by providing critical year 2000 system updates in a single source." The Web site goes on: "When Microsoft designed Windows NT 4, it did so with the year 2000 problem in mind. When developing software as complex as Windows NT, however, a few year 2000 bugs may creep into the product." There's more: "Microsoft has identified the following problems with Windows NT 4 and the year 2000:

  • You can't set 29 February 2000 as a valid date to expire an account using User Manager and User Manager for Domains. These utilities don't recognise 2000 as being a leap year.
  • The Date/Time applet in Control Panel may jump ahead one more day than expected. The server's system date is correct but the applet displays the date wrong.
  • When the properties of Office files are modified from the Shell, only 2-digit years are allowed and they're assumed to be in the 1900 century.
  • The date entry fields in the Date Modified tab of the Find Files or Folders utility show non-numeric data if the year is greater than 1999."

As

The Register

went to press, Microsoft Connections was telling customers the delay would be between eight and 12 weeks. Still confused? ®

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