Current "Vendor Letter" Strategies? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I'm interested in hearing of strategies currently (12/1997) in use dealing with obtaining definite answers from software vendors related to their Y2K compliancy, status, schedules, etc.

-- Ed Barkley (, December 26, 1997


It's a valid question, and various others who visit here may be willing and able to provide some answers. However, I think it's the kind of question that matters most to professional programmers who are helping their companies become Y2K compliant. As such, they would probably find answers on the newsgroup, or on the listserv operated on the site.

I'm trying to focus this bulletin board more on "personal" Y2K issues -- i.e., things that matter to us, and to our families, in the context of our personal lives.

As such, your question may or may not be relevant in its immediate form. If I'm concerned about the ability of my kids to continue doing their school work on our home PC, for example, then I obviously want to know whether Microsoft or Apple or IBM will be Y2K compliant with their various educational products.

However, it seems to me that a much larger and more immediate concern of the person at home has to do with compliance of embedded systems and "infrastructure" systems. I want to know whether my car will work, whether my phone will work, whether I can trust the utility company to continue providing electricity, etc.

Whether it's on a "personal" or "professional" basis, the response to queries about Y2K compliance has generally been very guarded, and often non-existent. In the case of software vendors, you can sometimes visit their web site (e.g., at to see what they have to say about various products. But when it comes to your bank, your car, your phone, and most other such things, there is little or no information provided -- and little or no mechanism to verify the accuracy or credibility of whatever information IS provided.

I think we'll start seeing a lot of Y2K-compliance claims in the second half of 1998. It will be interesting to see whether a "niche" industry of compliancy-testers springs up ... I sure hope so.


-- Ed Yourdon (, December 26, 1997.

In one case I just called the head engineer at the company and asked. "Is this certain product y2k compliant?" Answer "NO, but we're working on it." Q. "when can I expect a solution?" A. "About another month we're really close." I trust that kind of answer. Another vendor refused to even talk about it on advise of counsel. His product I assume failure and will replace as soon as possible. This seems to be the most reliable method. It doesn't leave a paper trail of proof of compliance but then I'm not sure it will matter without electricity.

-- Paul Cordes (, December 28, 1997.

I would like to expand the vendor letter discussion. A friend who is on a co-op board in Manhattan, who is not radicalized enuf to consider a move out of town, asks me, "We are doing an RFP for replacing our three elevtors. What wording should we use to insure y2k chip compliance? I know company lawyers, and how can we know that the contract will really mean what we want it to mean, and not what they want it to mean." This concern can be quickly extended to HVAC purchases as well. What wording should be used to approach vendors who have already installed such embedded chip equipment? And how would distinctions be made, if there is failure that could be from erratic eletric power surges and/or faulty chips? Has anyone made such wording available or does one have to seek out a lawyer who knows this stuff well enuf to come up with a kevlar contract for such purchases?

-- Victor Porlier (, January 04, 1998.

No matter what the vendor says, you should test your software if you depend on it : - the vendor may have done the required tests, but as usual not figured out all possible cases. It will probably be just a specific case concerning you, and this will most likely be considered as a software bug, but you will be the one in trouble. - if you get out of business due to a software problem and if your vendor gets sued by many people, he will get out of business as well, which of course will not help you at all. You should of course know if your software version is compliant or not, because obviously if you have an older version which is known as non compliant you are sure to be in trouble and it will all be your fault. However a letter of compliance can not be considered as an ultimate protection against anything.


-- SCHEIDT Robert (, April 16, 1998.

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