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Banyan climbs to Y2K compliance

Banyan Systems will address Year 2000 issues throughout its product line, releasing a new version of its Vines operating system and redesigning tools.

Banyan Systems (BNYN) will address Year 2000 issues throughout its product line by the middle of next year.

While in recent quarters the Westborough, Massachusetts-based company's revenues have been shrinking, its software continues to thrive in large corporate network installations. And those customers are continuing to develop plans to combat potential Year 2000 problems.

Banyan will redesign its product line of messaging, directory, and operating system (OS) tools so they are Year 2000-compliant. On top of that, the company will release a new version of its Vines OS this month that includes several new enhancements.

The millennium bug stems from decisions by programmers in the 1960s to refer to the date by using only the last two digits of a year instead of all four. Programmers continued to use that shorthand until very recently. When 00 comes up for the year 2000, many computers will view it as 1900 instead, causing widespread problems.

Banyan executives said most of their customers fall into two camps: those scared of the implications of the year 2000 and unclear about how to deal with them, and those moving forward with strategies to combat millennium issues. "It will be a necessity [to upgrade]," Shaun Hayes, a Banyan product line manager, said.

By the first quarter of next year, the company will ship 8.5, an add-on to the just released Vines 8.0 that solves the Year 2000 problem. A follow-up year 2000 initiative to be released in the second quarter will address the company's StreetTalk directory services software and the company's client-side components.

With the release of Vines 8.0 this month, the company will add support for four-way server systems, offer enhancements for server-to-server communications based on TCP/IP, and include access to Vines-based networks using a Web browser. The new version also includes administration tools that can be viewed through a Microsoft Windows 95 or NT machine.

Vines 8.0 costs $70 per user and $1,995 per server. The OS is free of charge for those customers in the company's Value Investment Plan.