Oh, and It's Leap Year, Too

Software companies have come under fire for not being up to speed on the year 2000 problem. Many word-processing, spreadsheet and database-management programs on the market are not Y2K-compliant.

Just as vendors are scrambling to ensure that product upgrades will be able to survive the millennium change, another problem has appeared on their radar screens.

Until recently, many software programmers were unaware that 2000 was a leap year. By convention, any year that is divisible by four is a leap year, except the years marking even hundreds, such as 1500. The only century years that are leap years are those that can be divided evenly by 400, such as 2000. Unfortunately, many software authors were unaware of the calendar's idiosyncrasies and failed to add Feb. 29, 2000, to their programs.

The biggest offender was probably Lotus Development Corp., which omitted the date in its popular 1-2-3 spreadsheet program that was written in the 1980s. Dozens of other software companies followed suit in order to maintain compatibility with Lotus products.

Agencies running older versions of applications software should test programs to see whether they show 2000 as a leap year. Otherwise, data integrity could be affected by the glitch. Vendors are promising to correct the problem in product upgrades.

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