Will Apple be ready for the Y2K Crunch?

Hello everybody! Nice seeing you again.

There is a question that I’ve been pondering lately.

Will Apple be ready for the Y2K Crunch?

I know what you are thinking. Apple Macintosh computers are Y2K compliant. So is the Mac OS. They always have been. What kind fool would ask such a silly question?

Before you write me off as some uniformed so and so, hear me out.

The times are changing…
It seems that the good news lately has been going Apple’s way. And from what I can see, unless Apple pulls a completely bone-headed and self-destructive maneuver out of their back pocket (AppleCare?), it’s unlikely this will change any time soon.

The press has been having a field day with Microsoft’s legal troubles. Just look at Tim’s column in the March issue; Microsoft has been downright arrogant regarding their antitrust trial. Imagine trying to pass off bogus videos in Federal Court. Imagine barring the Government’s lawyers from a room while they try to rig a computer to duplicate the bogus video, and then going so far as to drop one of the demonstrations altogether when it couldn’t be recreated! (Gee, I wonder why?) And my personal favorite is when the government’s lawyer caught one of Microsoft’s executives lying on the witness stand.

Their recent attempts to settle out of court are completely laughable, and are only token attempts to give them a semblance of plausible deniability.

“Well, we tried to settle this out of court, but the Government’s lawyers were simply inflexible.” Pure PR. Microsoft knows if they settle they will have to follow the new rules immediately. If they don’t, this case could be stuck in the courts for years, and they’ll be able to continue on their merry (read: illegal, monopolistic, arrogant, manipulative) ways for a long, long time.

Doesn’t this bother you? Doesn’t this bother many of Microsoft’s clients? Well, it bothers me, and I think it bothers a great deal of other people. I can’t be alone in not wanting to do business with a company that embraces business practices that I feel are ethically wrong. And I certainly don’t think much of Microsoft’s disregard for our system of justice. While our legal system may not be perfect, we should at least be able to expect oath-bound litigants to refrain from attempting to bamboozle the court! And is it so much to ask for a witness to speak the truth without having it slowly pulled out like a bad tooth?

Just how compliant is that OS in the Window?
I have read some very interesting articles lately. “I, Cringley” had some very interesting notes on Windows NT recently. NT4.0 with Service pack 3? NOT Y2K compliant.

The French Government has stated that Windows ’98 out of the box is NOT Y2K compliant.

Of course, neither was Windows 95.

Before you all flame me… Yes, I know they can be made Y2K compliant. There are downloads and patches for each to make them Y2K ready. But there are still countless millions of Wintel users out there that aren’t quite geeky enough to know about the myriad patches required to make their systems Y2K compliant.

The one that kills me is Windows 98. The packaging says it is fully Y2K compliant. Yet, the French Government discovered a patch that has to be downloaded from Microsoft to make it that way.

It’s sort of like buying a car that was advertised as having dual airbags, but finding out after a bad wreck that you needed to go into the dealer to have them “patched” for full functionality.

“Sorry about your broken neck, but you needed the patch installed to make the passenger safe. Okay?”

No, it isn’t.

Well, what if you were a Windows 98 user and you didn’t have an Internet connection? Come January 1, 2000, you just might find a surprise waiting for you when you turn on your computer in the morning. And there must be millions of Windows 98 users that aren’t yet on the Internet. MILLIONS! Not to mention the other millions of NT, Windows 95, and 3.11 users that didn’t get all the patches they needed. Even if they are on the Internet.

(I’m not even going to get into the BIOS updates required by the manufacturers’ hardware to make the firmware Y2K compliant.)

If I were a Wintel user booting up my system on January 1st, 2000 only to find out that my supposed Y2K compliant system wasn’t, I’d be just a little bit upset. Actually, I’d be livid. The blood would drain from my face and I would come completely unglued.

Do you hear what I hear?
(Think of the 1960s Batman series for added effect.)

Some people are going to be so mad they are simply going to take bats, golf clubs, and steel toed boots to their computers. You will see dumpsters full of smashed and wrecked Wintel computers.

Oh yeah, one more thing. You’re going to hear, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more, Microsoft! I’m buying a Mac!” It will echo from the streets, offices, and the rooftops. (Followed by a healthy “thud!” as their Wintel box is dropped off that rooftop!)

Seriously, there will be a great number of people that will have had it with Microsoft. Had it up to here with their lies, their manipulations, their business practices, their blatant disregard for their clients. After that, many of them won’t want anything to do with Microsoft.

Absolutely nothing.

The shortage of all things Macintosh
This brings us to January 2nd. When the computer stores reopen, I think you’ll find that anyone selling Apple Macintoshes will be quite busy, swamped, flooded, oh heck, there might even be riots! (Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme.) But I have a feeling that there may be a run on Macintoshes and all things Macintosh related.

If I were you, and looking to buy a Mac, I’d make sure you do so before the end of the 1999. There could be a serious shortage of Macintosh products after the first of the year 2000.

People will finally realize that Microsoft is not a company they want to do continue doing business with.

Just imagine walking into CompUSA on January 3rd and finding the shelves emptied of Macintosh computers. Not due to the usual poor ordering this time, but because they sold them all to the ravenous hordes of fed up PC users swinging over to the Mac. (Just imagine the looks on the faces of the dedicated Apple staff. Exhausted, frazzled, and the complete envy of their bored PC counterparts on the “dark side” of the store.)

This brings me back to the question that was on my mind at the beginning of this column.

Will Apple be ready for the Y2K crunch?
(Now do you see why I’ve been pondering this?)

In anticipation of the problems, will they have enough systems to meet the demand? Can they forecast what may come? Will CompUSA, Best Buy, Sears, and others be ready for the hordes of people that will walk in and want a Mac? Just how high will Apple’s overall market share get? 10%? 15%? 20%? HIGHER!?

Will the “Small Business” version of the iMac be on display for all the businesses needing a computer that works right now!?

If Apple is smart, they might even have a special promotion. I can see the stickers plastered on the boxes:

“This Macintosh is 100% Microsoft Windows FREE!”

They’d make a fortune on those bundles!

Will there be a shortage of all things Mac? Will Apple be ready for the Y2K crunch? Will Microsoft survive? How high will Apple’s market share rise? For the answer to these and many more questions, tune in after January 1st. And be glad you have a Mac. Be very glad.

Bob McCormick

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