The desktop wars, year 2000 version

Like most computer professionals, you’ve probably had your fill of preparations for the year 2000. Ideally, you spotted the problem long ago, brought management on-side, and began corrective measures for all the company’s computers and software.

So every BIOS is now compliant, commercial software is the latest (Y2K-compliant) version, and you’ve read the riot act to your partner organizations, so they’re Y2K compliant too, or at least well on their way. You’ve even verified that your home-grown, company-wide applications are compliant.

Realistically, you’ve only partially accomplished all these things, but at least you’ve started and can pat yourself on the back; you’re well ahead of many companies.

But you’re not safe just yet.

“A long time ago, in a corporation far, far away… Devil wars: the PC Menace.” In this particular civil war, the rebel forces, led by devilish proponents of personal computers, infiltrated the MIS infrastructure and began subverting the established order by managing their own computers — perhaps even by programming them. Spreadsheets like Lotus 1-2-3, databases like dBase and languages like Basic (or its modern descendant, Visual Basic for Applications) were easy enough to use that people could write their own software without having to rely on you. It was as if they’d discovered some mystical “force” that permeated their new computers and let them accomplish miracles seemingly beyond the reach of ordinary mortals – things formerly beyond the reach of anyone outside MIS, for that matter.

The ensuing struggle for control over a corporation’s data is a familiar story, since you’ve either lived through it or work with someone who did.

Currently, as the clock ticks down to Y2K, we’ve achieved d