Software Review: Norton 2000

By Jayne A. Hitchcock
as it appeared in the April 1999 issue of Computer News.

Are you one of those folks who are sick and tired of hearing things about the Y2K bug? Do you think it's a lot of hooey? Well, you might want to think twice, especially after my little encounter with Symantec's Norton 2000 software. If you think your computer and applications are ready for the year 2000, you may be in for a shock - I certainly was.

The whole thing with this is that many applications and programs (and computer BIOS) use two-digit date functions, such as 98 for the year 1998. This will likely cause a huge problem in 2000 when your computer and apps roll over to "00" - your computer may think it's 1900 instead of 2000. Not a good thought, now is it?

Norton 2000 is a simple, reliable piece of software that will take you step by step through what's on your computer and alert you to any discrepancies. And now is the time to do this - take care of the problem before 2000 is here.

But first, some notes: If you are using a 386/486 or basically anything that's a Pentium 200 or lower, break the piggy bank and get yourself an updated computer. The same goes for your software - if you're still using the first or second versions of Quicken, Lotus or other software (especially spreadsheet software), UPGRADE. I did. I now have a 450MHZ Pentium, 128K RAM, 8 gig hard drive, and new video/soundcards to boot.

Dana Prussoff, Product Manager for Norton 2000, told me in a phone interview, "The people who end up having the most incompatibility with Year 2000 compliance are those with older computers and older versions of software. They'll be the ones most likely to have big problems if they don't take care of things now."

‘Nuf said. So, with a bit of trepidation, I installed Norton 2000 and let it run. The "Welcome" screen lets you know a "wizard" would walk me through the program. There would be three tests performed on my computer - the first was a BIOS system test; the second checking my applications; the third my data files, especially spreadsheets and databases.

On the next screen was an option to perform a live update (I did and it automatically connected me to the Symantec site and updated the Norton 2000 program). The following screen let me know the system test was next. Fine with me. Uh-oh - my system was set as a two-digit year. Norton 2000 showed me how to change that and I quickly did, reran the system test and passed with flying colors.

My applications were next. Since my 8 gig hard drive is separated into three sections, this took about a minute. Norton 2000 literally goes through every application on a computer. Next was the data files test. Again, another minute went by as it performed its scan.

I cringed a bit when I saw the results - three of my applications had severe date issues (all of them Microsoft products). A small "URL" icon with a web site URL was displayed and I clicked on this. My browser automatically opened and connected me to Microsoft's Year 2000 compliant site. Each of the applications Norton 2000 found to have date conflicts were supposedly compliant, according to the Microsoft site. I just hope Microsoft is right. Quite a few of my applications were listed as "Applications of unknown compliance," but most I knew were okay (I went to the vendor web sites to confirm this first).

So far, so good.

My data file scan found quite a few errors in only six (out of 61) programs - Compuserve 4.1, Cybermedia's oil change, Inklink (a writing submission tracker program), Writer's Market 1999, Micrografx Picture Publisher 8 and Netscape Navigator 4.5. I went directly to their web sites and found either a Year 2000 update/fix or claims that the problem would be fixed before the end of the year. I hope so, or I'm switching to other programs!

I found that my results were quite tame compared to some people's. Prussoff told me that the most problems were found with those who used spreadsheet programs. People called in terror when the discrepancies were discovered by Norton 2000. Norton 2000 does offer correction advice, although it won't correct the problem (which I wish it would). This may still confuse those who use this program - I was one of the lucky ones and found my problems easy to correct.

Like Prussoff told me, "The newer your computer and applications, the better off you'll be."

So, are you year 2000 compliant? Use Norton 2000 and see if you really are ready for the millennium.

Related web sites
Norton 2000 Home Page
Norton 2000 Support
Symantec's Y2K Page

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at

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