Microsoft preps customers early in hopes of avoiding DST fallout

Summary:November 4 is just around the corner. Now's the time to make sure any Microsoft products that store or use time are updated before Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the U.S. ends for the year, the Softies say.

November 4 is just around the corner. Now's the time to make sure any Microsoft products that store or use time are updated before Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the U.S. ends for the year, the Softies say.

Hoping to head off the confusion and problems a number of customers experienced in the spring when DST kicked off three weeks earlier than usual, Microsoft is turning up its messaging around DST. On September 14, the company held a Webcast designed to educate customers about the pending fall DST changes.

"We got feedback that our (spring DST) information was too little, too late," acknowledged Rich Kaplan, vice president of supportability and customer and partner experience.

Following a request by Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, Microsoft set up an early warning system to head off product/customer support issues on a variety of fronts, including DST, he said. Microsoft's system is tracking news groups, call-volume analytics and feedback from a set of key partners to help the company get its ducks in a row, going forward, Kaplan said.

Microsoft officials attempted to hammer home a few key points during the Webcast:

  • DST isn't a U.S.-only issue. Various countries are on all kinds of schedules. Companies which have employees located outside the U.S. and/or who do business with those outside of the U.S. need to make sure their timing systems are in sync. Australia, New Zealand and Egypt recently changed their DST observances. Venezuela is likely next (and rumored to be making the move on September 17, according to Microsoft's latest info).
  • Lots of Microsoft (and non-Microsoft) products are affected by DST changes. There are the usual suspects -- Exchange Server, Outlook and Windows Mobile. But a number of other products need to be updated properly as well, including SharePoint Server, Windows client and server, SQL Server, Dynamics CRM, Visual Studio, custom line-of-business applications and more.
  • It wouldn't hurt customers who applied DST patches to their products and services this past spring to apply the latest DST patches again this fall. Microsoft has been adding and updating available DST patches throughout the summer. There's no harm done by repatching already properly patched systems, Microsoft officials said, and repatching just might catch any improperly or totally unpatched clients and servers. If repatching is a major pain, Microsoft advises customers to check out the diagram on its customer support site to determine the minimum number of patches it should apply before November 4.
  • Customers who paid Microsoft for DST patches for older unsupported products do not have to pay again for the fall round of patches.

It sounds like Microsoft is planning to issue time-zone/DST-related updates and patches on a regular basis year-round, going forward. Late 2007/early 2008 should be when Microsoft releases the next batch of DST updates, followed by a mid-2008 one, officials said during the Webcast Friday.

Any worries or questions you have regarding DST patching as the end of DST approaches?

Topics: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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