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Microsoft: Win 98 has "minor" Y2K problems

December  1998

update Microsoft said its Windows 98 operating system has minor Year 2000 problems and is making an update that fixes the glitch available on the Internet and CD-ROMs.

Microsoft said that the Windows 98 problem means that dates in 2000 could be displayed incorrectly in "rare scenarios," although it poses no threat of data loss. The world's largest software company said that most customers have a small chance of encountering the Windows 98 glitch during everyday use of the software program.

The Year 2000 bug can cause computers to read the year 2000 as 1900 because most older computers were programmed to read a two-digit year date. That bug could cause machines to either crash or transmit bad information.

"Microsoft understands the critical nature of the Year 2000 issue and is committed to diligently testing its products and promptly providing information and solutions to its customers if issues arise," Rich Kaplan, director of the platforms infrastructure group at Microsoft, said in a statement. "In the course of testing efforts with Windows 98, we have identified and fixed these minor Year 2000 issues."

An example of the possible Y2K glitch found in Windows 98, which was released last summer, is an issue discovered that involves the date/time control applet. In certain instances, a user can set the date to February 29 of a leap year and then to do the same for other years as well. This is simply a display problem, however. The user cannot apply this incorrect date.

Another issue involves the phone dialer applet in Windows 98, in which the log file created after a user makes a phone call with the applet may in some instances display the year portion of the call incorrectly.

In addition, the company said that 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 would be a rare occurrence because the exact time frame varies from machine to machine typically less than one second.

Some Year 2000 problems 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), Microsoft said. For example, if a Web site uses Java and makes use of the Java.txt.SimpleDateFormet 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.

The update patch comes just days after Microsoft announced plans to revamp its Y2K strategy by adding tools and services that will work to address six key "layers" of Y2K compliance: the BIOS/real time clock, hardware, applications, documents, custom code, and data interface, the company said.

Customers and industry analysts alike have criticized the software behemoth for not moving fast enough to provide Y2K information and services to its customer base.

The Windows 98 Y2K update is now available on the Windows update site. Customers can also get the update on CD-ROM free by ordering it from the site or calling 1-800-363-2896.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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