Microsoft, Blockbuster Bring Free Y2K Video to U.S. Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 18, 1999 — With only 44 days to go until the new millennium, virtually everyone with a PC has heard of the Y2K challenge — but many consumers haven’t yet tested their computers to make sure they’re ready for the new year.

To help, Microsoft Corp. and Blockbuster Video have teamed up to distribute informational Y2K videos to participating Blockbuster stores across the United States. Is Your Computer Prepared for the Year 2000? was produced by Microsoft and is hosted by television’s popular Bill Nye,
“The Science Guy.”
The 30-minute video comes with a companion Year 2000 CD-ROM from Microsoft that includes software updates for Microsoft’s most popular programs and Y2K information and resources for consumers. Blockbuster is making the video and CD available for rental at no charge.

“My initial research has shown — and this is important — that the way that your computer system will be affected by the year 2000 will depend not only on the equipment and software that you have, but also on the way you use your PC and rely on it,”
says Nye in the video.
“If you only use your PC to play games or surf the Internet, you’re less likely to experience Year 2000 issues. On the other hand, if you use your PC for managing finances or storing important date-sensitive information, you’re more likely to experience Year 2000 issues.”

Nye goes on to explain that consumers need to check three aspects of their computer systems: hardware, software, and data.

Nye and John Archer, chairman of the PC Y2000 Alliance, walk consumers through the process of testing their hardware. First, consumers should check their manufacturer’s Web site — directly or through the easy links provided by the video and CD-ROM — to see if their machines are listed as
for Year 2000. If the consumer’s specific model isn’t listed, the consumer can test the hardware using a simple National Software Testing Labs (NTSL) software program available through a link on the CD-ROM. Nye and Archer demonstrate how to download and use the test software. For PCs that fail part of the test, consumers can download software that will monitor and repair the problem, or simply adjust their computers’ clocks manually.

Next, consumers need to check their operating systems and applications. Nye and Rich Kaplan, director of Microsoft’s Year 2000 programs, demonstrate this process for viewers, advising them to contact the companies that supplied each software system or application they use. For Microsoft applications, consumers can use the Microsoft Product Analyzer included on the companion CD-ROM. It scans the hard drive and creates a report listing Microsoft software, including the operating system and software applications. The report provides a link to product information and to any software update or other information that may be recommended.

Nye and Kaplan also show viewers how to deal with their data– the files consumers create in spreadsheets, databases, word processors or other applications, and that may contain date-related information.

“Many risks can be eliminated by changing the way that you specify dates,”
explains Kaplan in the video.
“As a rule of thumb, it’s best to consistently use four-digit years in all files that are important to you or to others, since two-digit year shortcuts risk inaccurate interpretation.”

Many people have existing Excel spreadsheet files that already contain two-digit dates. Nye shows them how to use Microsoft’s Date Fix Wizard, Date Migration Wizard and Date Watch Wizard to convert two-digit dates to four-digit dates for continued use after January 1.

Nye and Kaplan conclude the video by taking viewers on a tour of the Microsoft Y2K Web site — available online at — to show them free information and software tools that are available for consumers.

“There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to the Y2K issue,”
says Nye,
“but there are simple steps that consumers can follow to test and prepare their home PCs for Year 2000 readiness.”

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