Few glitches after daylight saving shift

Earlier than usual switch to daylight saving time causes some snags, but no major disruptions are reported.
Written by Joris Evers, Contributor
No major disruptions were reported due to daylight saving time starting earlier than usual on Sunday, though some people are experiencing technology glitches.

The bulk of the problems arose for people who had not updated their computers or had decided to postpone patching to the last minute, according to Microsoft, which created a dedicated "DST Support Central" to help customers. The symptom: clocks running an hour behind because they did not automatically adjust.

"This is more a nuisance issue," said Rich Kaplan, the Microsoft vice president in charge of handling daylight saving time issues. "We had phone calls. There were people who had not applied the updates yet, so they wanted some clarity. There were no calls that said infrastructure was down, data was lost or any of those things."

Microsoft's customer support troops handled more calls than usual, but the number of help requests was lower than the company had expected, Kaplan said.

For the first time this year daylight saving is four weeks longer. Congress in 2005 decided to extend the period to reduce energy use by providing more daylight in the evening.

However, the shift could cause trouble with software set to automatically advance its clock by an hour on the first Sunday in April, the old date, instead of the second Sunday in March.

Most problems after the Sunday switch have been related to calendaring in Outlook, with appointments being off by an hour. In some cases, people reported agenda errors despite installing Microsoft's fixes, probably because of dependencies on the calendars of people who had not yet applied the updates.

The Sans Internet Storm Center, which tracks network threats, received several reports of DST-related issues. One person reported a problem with American Power Conversion's Powerchute software, resulting in a scheduled reboot happening an hour later. Another reported that Cisco Systems' phones displayed the incorrect time.

Other issues logged by Sans include cell phones and atomic clocks not updating, Symantec Backup Exec starting backups an hour early, and WatchGuard security software reporting incorrect times, which can result in inaccurate activity logs.

"Nothing earth-shattering or causing the Internet to crash and burn, however it is making things a little tense for some folks," Sans staffer Deborah Hale wrote on the Internet Storm Center blog.

Over the past several months, technology companies have urged people to patch their computers, smart phones and other products with clocks set to self-adjust on the wrong day. Many IT professionals were struggling to apply all updates in time.

"As typical, IT users endured the failings of the vendors, exhibited heroics and made this work," said Ken McGee, a Gartner analyst. "This really serves as an opportunity for the IT industry to have a good look at itself."

While the annoyance appears minor, Microsoft recommends keeping a close eye on schedules over the coming three weeks. Also, systems without patches may turn the clock forward by an hour on April 1, the old DST date, and switch it back again on October 28, instead of November 4, according to Microsoft.

The switch at Microsoft itself went smoothly. "The one thing that did not flip forward was the analog clock in our room," said M3 Sweatt, chief of staff of Microsoft's customer service team.

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