Talking Point
Modern PCs should be millennium compliant because manufacturers have been aware of the potential problems for some time.

Older computers that may not be bug-free can be checked and probably corrected by using software tools which will examine the machine's BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).

Microsoft says Windows 98 will do this automatically, but earlier Windows or DOS systems will not. Apple users are in a better position in that Mac dates have always had a four-digit code so do not face the same problems.

Software can also be affected, but can be tested.

Personal computer-owners are therefore advised to check with the manufacturer of their machine if they have any doubts, or to purchase some testing software.

Further information on home PCs can be found on the BBC Education millennium bug site.

Web given 'all-clear'

Internet users could be affected, but in August the head of the US commission in charge of dealing with the problem, John Koskinen, reported that the Web's core technologies were unlikely to be affected.

Disruption was very possible, particularly due to local failures, but the Internet's decentralised nature made it less likely to collapse, he reported.

Some areas could be hit by local power or telephone system problems and the heavy volume of traffic expected over the New Year would probably cause delays, he said.

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