Microsoft patches Y2K problem in Win 98

Microsoft said today it has identified "minor year 2000 issues" in its Windows 98 operating system which under certain circumstances can cause the wrong date to be displayed after December 31, 1999.

The issues pose no risk of data loss or PC damage, and users would be unlikely to notice the glitch during normal daily use of their computer, Microsoft said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the company has posted a Year 2000 Update on the Web which users can download for free, at http://www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/Microsoft discovered the 2000 bug during ongoing tests conducted after the operating system was released. It plans to start e-mailing registered Windows 98 customers over the next 24 hours to make sure they are aware of the problem.

Microsoft issued a list of the Year 2000 incompatibilities it has discovered in Windows 98. They include the following:

-- Date rollover. If a system is booting at the precise fraction of a second when the date rolls, the system clock may display an inaccurate time or date. The occurrence of this would be extremely rare because the exact time frame varies from machine to machine and lasts typically less than one second.

-- Date/Time control applet. If a user opens the Date/Time applet in the control panel and sets the date to Feb. 29 of a leap year and then uses the up and down buttons to change years, Feb. 29 might be displayed for other years. This is simply a display problem, however; the user cannot apply this incorrect date.

-- Dialer.Exe Log. When a user makes a phone call using the Phone Dialer applet, the log file created after completion of the call displays the year portion of the call date incorrectly.

-- DOS XCOPY. When using XCOPY in real mode with the optional parameter /D:date, xcopy does not accept years entered as two digits, except for the years 80 through 99. The message "Invalid date" is displayed. When using xcopy in protected mode (from within Windows), two-digit dates are accepted but are recognised as being within the 20th century (for example, 02/05/01 is seen as 02/05/1901).

-- Java Virtual Machine. Some year 2000 issues have been reported in connection with Java Virtual Machines based on the Sun Microsystems Java Development Kit (versions 1.1.1 to 1.1.5). For example, if a Web site uses Java and makes use of the java.txt.SimpleDateFormat class library and the user enters four digits for the year, the date functions may truncate the year and use only the first two digits.

-- Lagging IP lease dates. If a user logs onto a LAN on or after March 1, 2000, and runs Winipcfg from the Run command or Ipconfig from the DOS VM, the DHCP client reports the IP lease date as having been obtained on the previous day.

-- Microsoft Foundation Class Library. After the year 2000, programs that use the COleDateTime function may improperly parse a date. For example, 02/05/2000 may display as 2/05/100. To view an example of this after the year 2000, from Programs\Accessories\System Tools users can run System Information (msinfo32.exe) and save the file. Users should then open this info extension file and from the File menu select Properties. The date stamp may display the improper date.

-- Microsoft Wallet. When entering credit card information in versions of Microsoft Wallet that precede 2.1.1383, users must enter the month, day and year for expiration dates beyond 2000. Otherwise, information may be parsed incorrectly. For example, entering an expiration date of 5/01 could be parsed as May 1 rather than May 2001. Users can correct this by installing Microsoft Wallet version 2.1.1383 or later or by downloading the Windows 98 Year 2000 Update.

-- Programming to data access components. If a programmer codes to ADO or OLE DB and uses data access components such as adDate, adDBDate or Dbtype_Filetime, chooses to use an international date format with periods as separators and specifies a year by two digits earlier than 60, then the date may be translated as a time.

-- Regional Settings Date/Time Picker. If Regional Settings in the Control Panel is set to use two-digit years, then the Date/Time Picker function may not return the proper date. Only two digits are accepted at a time. To ensure proper handling of dates, the user can either set Regional Settings to four-digit date handling or download the Windows 98 Year 2000 Update.

-- WordPad custom properties. If a user selects Properties, Custom on a WordPad or Word document, the custom date setting will not accept 2000 as a valid entry when entered as "00". All two-digit dates are assumed to be in the 20th century, and if the time zone is set to Far East, the date properties will lose a day when the year is entered as 2000.

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James Niccolai

PC World

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