Sun unveils sweeping Y2K warranty

Sun Microsystems Inc. is putting its money where its mouth is by offering users a wide-ranging year 2000 warranty on all products listed as of Jan 1, 1995.

According to Sun, all products purchased from Sun as of that date are now covered. If a year 2000 problem arises, Sun will replace the product, or give users a current book-value refund.

Although customers are becoming increasingly anxious about the compliance status of their Sun products, a company official said the warranty was always in the works.

“We think it’s the right thing to do,” said Tony Hampel, group manager for year 2000 marketing with the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. “Customers, as we were getting closer and closer to the year 2000, wanted some assurances from Sun…that these products weren’t going to [fail] come Jan. 1.”

Hampel said it isn’t fair to penalize its customers who, when they first signed contracts with Sun, hadn’t even considered year 2000 issues.

But the warranty isn’t without conditions. If a product’s source code has been changed by a third-party, it isn’t covered for year 2000 — products must be in an as-shipped state, Hampel said.

Second, equipment purchased after 1995 that come from a Sun-acquired third-party that is either no longer supporting the technology or is out of business is also not covered in the event of year 2000 problems.

Because many of the legal issues surrounding year 2000 have yet to play themselves out, Hampel said Sun didn’t rush development of the warranty. But he said the vendor did want to make if official before the July 1 fiscal year got underway.

“We feel [the warranty] is a very competitive and bold move,” Hampel said. “We also feel that companies like Sun should be doing these kinds of activities to help their customers.”

Sun’s stance is one of the most proactive, said Tom Oleson, research director of the IT advisor program at International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Mass.

Other companies have also announced they will honour year 2000 warranties, including IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Novell Inc., Oleson said. “What you have is the IT industry saying they are going to stand behind their products,” he added. “But the Sun announcement makes sure their customers understand they really do intend to support them. This is kind of a blanket statement of support.”

To find out what products are covered by the warranty, visit Sun’s year 2000 Web site at

— with files from IDG News Service