Sun offers Y2K compliance warranty

Sun Microsystems has announced it will honour a broad warranty that will cover problems caused by the year 2000 issue on the majority of its products, a move designed to reassure the company's customers that there should be few difficulties in the transition to the next millennium.

Sun has issued a guarantee that products with a year 2000 warranty should continue to work, and if not, the company will repair the products, supply equivalent products or refund their net book value. The warranty applies to products purchased on or after January 1, 1995.

The year 2000 warranty was issued earlier this year, but the company publicly announced it this week to reassure customers.

"This warranty helps the end user know that Sun isn't going to flip flop on products listed as year 2000-compliant," Tony Hampel, Sun's group manager for year 2000 marketing, said.

Most of Sun's products purchased after January 1, 1995, will be year 2000-compliant, Hampel said.

Sun's stance is one of the most proactive efforts by computer companies to show customers the vendor stands behind its products when it comes to the year 2000 issue, said Tom Oleson, research director of the IT advisor program at IDC.

Other companies have also announced they will honour year 2000 warranties, including IBM, Microsoft, Dell and Novell, Oleson said. "What you have is the IT industry saying it is going to stand behind its products," he added.

"But the Sun announcement makes sure its customers understand it really does intend to support them," Oleson said. "This is kind of a blanket statement of support."

Another analyst agreed that Sun's action was very aggressive.

"I don't think anybody (except Sun) has given a guarantee that they will come in and fix any problems," said George Weiss, an analyst with Gartner Group.

Sun began testing its products for year 2000 compliance in 1996 and has updated the status of products that were on its price lists starting January 1, 1995, the company said in a statement. All the vendor's 14,000 products will be tested for year 2000 compliance.

The company's high-volume products were tested first. Sun's Solaris operating system and its UltraSPARC, Java and VIS Technology products were tested and are listed as year 2000-compliant, according to the company.

The list of the compliance status of Sun's products can be found on the company's Web site at