Are your applications ready for 2000?

[Dana H. Schultz]

Last month we discussed whether PCs and operating systems will operate properly when the year 2000 (Y2K) comes along. This month we start taking a look at application software and Y2K.

The information in this article has been gathered primarily from vendors' web sites. And while the information is helpful, the vendors tend to hedge their bets.

Corel (www.corel.com/2000_q3. htm) says "you assume all risk and liability associated with your reliance upon the information below."

Similarly, Microsoft (www.micro soft.com/ithome/topics/year2k/2kfaq/2kfaq07.htm) says, "The Microsoft Statement of Compliance does not constitute a warranty or extend the terms of any existing warranty."

Not too comforting, but it's all we have.

Word processing

For WordPerfect users, the good news is that Versions 7 and 8 are Y2K-ready. The bad news is that prior versions have been abandoned.

Corel will do Y2K testing and development only for products released in 1997 or later. For earlier products, you should "contact the original developer." Corel specifically notes that WordPerfect products purchased from Novell have not been tested.

So what does Novell (www.novell.com/p2000/product.html) have to say about this? "Novell no longer supports any WordPerfect products . . . Upgrade to Corel WordPerfect Suite."

Most pre-1997 WordPerfect users are running either Version 6.1 for Windows or Version 5.1 for DOS. For these products, lack of Y2K compatibility is most likely to show up in file management, with documents created in 2000 appearing to have been created in 1900.

This will not be an earth-shaking problem. Nevertheless, confusion will increase as time passes.

RECOMMENDATION: If you have a pre-1997 version of WordPerfect, start planning right away for an upgrade before Y2K arrives.

The problem is similar for Microsoft Word, but less widespread because until a couple of years ago, Word was far less popular than WordPerfect. Microsoft reports problems with Word Versions 5 (DOS) and 6 (Windows) but not with Word 95 or Word 97.

RECOMMENDATION: If you have Word Version 5 or 6, now is the time to start planning your upgrade.

Document management

Many firms use a document management system (DMS) as an aid for storing, retrieving and controlling versions of documents. A DMS that cannot properly search and sort dates is virtually useless.

SoftSolutions users have the greatest problem. Novell bought the product, then stopped developing it. SoftSolutions is not Y2K-compliant, so Novell says, "Upgrade to GroupWise."

Unfortunately, even with enhancements that are expected later this year, GroupWise likely will continue to have significant limitations as a DMS. Furthermore, while Group-Wise is a fine product, most of its capabilities are of no interest to a firm that only wants a DMS.

RECOMMENDATION: If you have any version of SoftSolutions, upgrade to a new DMS as soon as possible -- you cannot afford to be using this product when Y2K arrives.

For a more current DMS that is kept up-to-date, there should be few problems. PC DOCS (www.pcdocs.com) reports that when minor cosmetic enhancements are completed later this year, DOCS Open will be fully Y2K-compliant. However, its predecessor, PC DOCS Classic, is not even mentioned in PC DOCS' Y2K discussion.

RECOMMENDATION: Users of PC DOCS Classic should upgrade as soon as possible.

While NetRight does not discuss Y2K at its Website (www.netright. com), the company says that its iManage software is Y2K-ready.

The bottom line: If you have reasonably up-to-date software, you probably are in good shape. On the other hand, if you have not upgraded your system during the past couple of years, you should begin pretty quickly. Otherwise, once 1999 starts, the best network integrators will be too busy to take on a lot of new clients, and you could find yourself out in the cold.

Dana H. Shultz is an Oakland-based lawyer, certified management consultant and speaker specializing in office technology and online marketing. He may be reached by e-mail at dhshultz@ds-a.com and on the World Wide Web at http://www.seamless.com/ds/.