Microsoft downplays 2001 glitch
January 15, 1999
by Sharon Gaudin
(IDG) -- Microsoft Corp. is downplaying a bug in its Windows operating systems family that is set to throw off program timing on April 1, 2001.
The bug, which is caused by a single missing equal sign in Visual C++ code in the runtime library in Windows 95, 98 and NT, causes an error in calculating the beginning of Daylight Savings Time in 2001, throwing it off by an hour. The bug doesn't wind itself out until April 8, 2001 when it shifts back to the correct time, according to Richard M. Smith, president of Cambridge, Mass.-based development company Phar Lab Software, Inc.
The bug, Smith noted, will throw off any time-sensitive application, such as electronic calendars and automated hotel wake-up calls.
Smith said the bug could affect any application that links directly in to the operating system library. He estimated that could involve as many as 20% to 30% of the applications out there, including Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator and Microsoft's own Internet Explorer.
That also means third-party vendors will have to build and distribute patches for their affected applications, Smith said.
But Chris Hargarten, Microsoft's Visual C++ product manager, disputed that assessment, saying that the glitch isn't serious and shouldn't affect a large number of applications.
"This is a really small date problem," Hargarten said. "The biggest thing here is that the number of applications out there that use that library is widespread. But the number that use the time function and will get hit by this bug is very, very small.
Hargarten also said Microsoft should be making an announcement within the next week addressing the bug and putting a time frame on releasing a patch. He also noted that it's possible Microsoft will build a patch that will address any linked applications so users won't have to worry about dealing with more than one patch.
"There's a number of different ways we could fix this," he added. "That is a possibility, but I'm not saying that's what we will do."
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