Microsoft programs have difficulty dealing with leap year

According to the Microsoft Exchange 2007 team blog, system administrators attempting to configure Exchange e-mail networks on February 29th may have been met with the curt system message: "The Exchange server address list service failed to respond. This could be because of an address list or e-mail address policy configuration error."
The error, it turns out, is Microsoft's, as several of its programs are unable to cope with the leap year date of February 29th.

While the Exchange team promised to come up with a permanent fix, the only solution it could advise was to wait until midnight (coordinated universal time - or UTC) on the morning of March 1st and then restart the Exchange System Attendant service.

Microsoft's vulnerability to the leap year day issue is longstanding, and the subject of some pointed criticism from the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, one of whose members, Kevin Kennelly, highlighted a bug in Excel that causes it to count 1900 as a leap year. While logically 1900 is divisible by four, as are all the leap years since, under the criteria of the Gregorian calendar, turn of the century years are only leap years if they are divisible by 400.

"That bug has been around for 20 years," leap year day baby society spokesman Peter Brouwer told The Register, which has been monitoring the situation closely. Microsoft claimed that the 1900 glitch was retained deliberately to ensure compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3, but Lotus founder Mitch Kapor denied this was the case, Brouwer said. Even more irritatingly for the society, Microsoft tried to include the bug in its OOXML file standard, he added.

Since the 29th, problems have emerged with the preview release of SQL Server 2008, as well as Windows Small Business Server and Windows Mobile. On Leap Year Day, Windows SBS was unable to issue itself certificates because it stamped each certificate with the date February 29, 2013.

Register reader Steve Kellett reported that his Windows Mobile iPAQ device went haywire after midnight on February 29th and decided it was March 1, 2035. "It then reminded me of 27 years' worth of overdue appointments. It took me two soft resets with accompanying date changes before it finally came back from the future."

Offended by being called "whingers" by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for complaining about the 20-year-old Excel bug, the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies was now convinced of the justice of its cause. "We want to see an end to these leap year day bugs... and will boldly step into battle with Microsoft, if that's what it takes," said Brouwer.

Adapted from an article that appeared on our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk

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