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MS climbs down on Win95 Y2K bug fix – maybe

Noises coming out of Redmond suggest the 'let them eat Win98' policy may have been modified

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Strange but true - not three months after saying Windows 95 would never be fully Y2K compliant, Microsoft is now telling journalists it's going to issue a Y2K compliance patch for the OS next week. The company's Y2K product manager Don Jones has been quoted on news.com as saying Y2K isn't a reason to upgrade to Windows 98, and that the company is making a commitment to its older platforms. So let's rewind a little there, folks. Back in January we reported (Win95 will never be Y2K-compliant - official) a Microsoft Y2K statement issued the previous day. The statement didn't exactly shower good cheer on users of older Microsoft products, which means anything that isn't the latest version, so much so that we encourage you to read the full thing, which is still up on the Microsoft site. But the highlights of what we presume remains Microsoft policy until such time as a new one gets posted are as follows. "Future Microsoft products will be year 2000 compliant [we're rubbing our hands in expectation over that one, considering the Win98 foul-up]... the company... intends to maintain the year 2000 compliance of many popular products through Jan. 1, 2001. This assurance applies even if newer versions become available." Of these many popular products, the operating systems were NT 4.0, NT 3.51, Windows 98 and Windows 95 (including IE 4.x), but 95 is footnoted as: "Compliance status will remain as 'compliant with minor issues.'" And "compliant with minor issues" is how practically every Microsoft product is listed (and has been listed for months) on the Microsoft Y2K information site. So what is it Microsoft proposes to do with next week's Win95 Y2K patch? It's not clear whether the company is now fixing all of the problems, or just some of them. If it's the former we have a climb-down, and can expect desperate efforts to fix more of the older products rather than just shoo people onto upgrades, whereas if it's the latter, then previous policy is being maintained. But if MS is finally making a determined effort to get real, it's doubtful if it can make it. The company has just put out its Y2K Product Analyser and Y2K Product Guide Workbook, which are intended to help customers address Y2K issues with MS products. But both of these were due to ship two months ago, according to the last recorded sighting. ®

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