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1998-04-06 21:34:13


Microsoft Vice President Muddies the Waters



This man appears to be a graduate of the Dwight D. Eisenhower School of Communications.

What do you make of this?

* * * * * * *

MR. BALLMER: Well, the Year 2000 issue is a very real issue, there's no doubt about that. And there is a lot at stake for the proper functioning of a number of organizations if the Year 2000 issues are not addressed. I'd be surprised, I'm not going to argue with the surgeon general of New Zealand, but I'd be surprised if most hospitals weren't careful enough that the Year 2000 problem is not life-threatening. On the other hand, there's possibility for very real and very serious business interruption.

The thing that I think has been to some extent overstated, is the amount of money that it will take to solve the Year 2000 problem. The thing that I think has been understated potentially is the amount of time it will take to solve the Year 2000 problem. In some senses, it gets crazier, and crazier, and crazier for people to be panicked about the Year 2000 the closer we get. I guarantee you by December of 1999, if somebody hasn't solved their Year 2000 problem, they're not going to solve their Year 2000 problem. They're going to replace it with a new set of problems.

These are issues that require thoughtful and careful work over a period of time. You'll find that many organizations, you actually have to solve the Year 2000 problems early, by early in '99. The airlines need to solve it by 1998, because they start taking reservations more than a year in the future, for example.

So, I think a lot of the cost may be behind us, and there's probably a few disasters -- there will be at least one or two high profile disasters in front of us. But the notion that you could significantly increase taxes in a way that would actually solve the Year 2000 problem, I dispute that, unless you raise those taxes a few years ago. I think those problems need to be worked on now.


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