Norton 2000: Preparing for Y2K

Hands On Review

A good deal of the concern generated by the Y2K problem has revolved around older computer systems, such as mainframes and aging multiuser VMS and Unix systems. But even software as new as Microsoft Corp.’s Office 97 has Y2K associated problems and must be evaluated.

Symantec Corp.’s Norton 2000 eases the evaluation of the three main year 2000 issues for desktops: hardware problems such as the BIOS and real-time clock, commercial off-the-shelf application compliance, and end user created data.

Norton 2000 tests your system BIOS, real-time clock and system clock via a boot floppy that prevents the inadvertent destruction of data and program configurations during testing. If it finds a BIOS/clock problem, and it can be fixed by software, Norton 2000 will repair the problem. If not, it will inform you of the need to update your system’s BIOS.

Norton 2000 evaluates application software liability by scanning for applications and data that may have problems across the Year 2000 date change. It identifies, prioritizes, and reports on two-digit date calculation anomalies in spreadsheet cells and formulas, database fields and forms, and text from applications like Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro, Access, dBase III and IV, Clipper, FoxPro, Paradox and other file types via an unstructured file analysis engine. It also parses embedded Visual Basic and macros in Excel spreadsheets and looks for Y2K problems.

This analysis is performed by auditing software applications. We tested this by running it against a database with known date problems on a Windows NT 4.0 workstation with Service Pack 4. Norton 2000 correctly identified the problems we knew about and found some that we had no idea where there.

We also tested Norton 2000 on Windows 95 and Windows 98 with similar results. In each case, Norton 2000 found software and data files that should be considered problematic.

Norton 2000 identified some data files that really were not a problem. It erred on the side of safety by reporting them. Norton 2000 reports are user modifiable so that your organization can set its own criteria for measuring risk and determining whether to fix individual desktop Y2K anomalies.

The enterprise version of Norton 2000 includes Snap-Ins to the Microsoft Management Console-compliant Norton System Center. This setup uses a single administrative console for quick and easy distribution, reporting, and management throughout a LAN or WAN environment.

With Norton System Center, administrators can schedule regular, transparent scans of user data files, then import logs into a SQL Server database for graphing and analysis. Both the enterprise version and the personal version contain Norton’s LiveUpdate technology. LiveUpdate automatically checks Symantec applications against the Symantec FTP site on the Internet for upgrades and patches.

In May, Symantec will announce a new version of Norton 2000 that will include a Fix Assistant for common remediation methods for Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access. Administrators will be able to roll up both application scan results and system date test results into the SQL database. Administrators will also be able to sort scan results by severity and log only those files with errors, issues, or notes. The new version will support Office 2000 file formats.

Norton 2000
Symantec Corp.
Cupertino, CA
(408) 253-9600

+ Provides a simple way to identify Y2K desktop problems
+ BIOS Check/Fix keeps older systems alive
- Late to market, would have been more useful a year ago