Microsoft Posts SP3 Y2K Hotfixes

<P>Microsoft Corp. posted the Y2K readiness document for Windows NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 3, which includes several new Y2K hotfixes but will not change SP3’s Y2K status from &quot;compliant with minor issues.&quot;</P>

Microsoft Corp. posted the Y2K readiness document for Windows NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 3 (SP3), which includes several new Y2K hotfixes but will not change SP3’s Y2K status from "compliant with minor issues."

The move follows a minor furor that erupted recently when Microsoft strongly encouraged users to upgrade to SP4. Many users had tested their systems on SP3 and had planned to ride that service pack into 2000. At the time of the SP4 announcement, Microsoft officials had said new Y2K problems with SP3 would only be fixed as they arose.

The Microsoft SP3 document, however, reflects a sensitivity to many customers’ SP3 concerns. "Microsoft recognizes that, in light of Microsoft’s recommendation that users upgrade to Windows NT Server Service Pack 4 (SP4), some users of Windows NT Server 4.0 would prefer to remain on Service Pack 3 (SP3) until after January 1, 2000. To address the needs of these users, Microsoft has prepared a number of fixes to the base Windows NT Server 4.0 operating system and Windows NT Server 4.0 features," the document reads.

Andrew Diamondstein, associate analyst with market research firm Giga Information Group (, credits customer-generated pressure for the hotfixes. "I think that [Microsoft] got pushbacks from customers that they had to fix these issues," Diamondstein says.

Microsoft still recommends that customers install SP4 to get a compliant rating for their target systems. This service pack corrects 15 Y2K-specific bugs. Microsoft, however, committed in the SP3 Y2K document to supporting SP3 at "compliant with minor issues" through Jan. 1, 2001. Microsoft has rated SP3 as "compliant with minor issues" since April, a spokeswoman says.

Six known Y2K issues in NT Server 4.0 are left unresolved by the hotfixes. A list of these problems in the document allows IT professionals to evaluate for themselves whether they need to upgrade to SP4.

The problems include incorrect expiration dates in the WINS/DHCP Admin; incorrect custom dates in Word 97 files for two time zones that include Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo; a delay of up to one hour in the 1999 to 2000 rollover of the BIOS date value; incorrect date windows in OLE Automation for locales using calendars in addition to the Gregorian calendar; incorrect dates in saved System Info Reports; and the inability to choose a four-digit year format in certain language settings, such as Hebrew or Japanese.

The hotfixes, which Microsoft mistakenly posted in rough draft form Feb. 17, resolve a dozen Y2K issues. Some were handled in earlier SP3 Y2K hotfixes.

Fixes in the update, officially dated Feb. 26, include repairs to the User Manager, Control Panel Date/Time applet, Find Files, Shell Doc Property Dialog, Office documents, NetWare file dates and account migration, print job dates, PS1 compatible machines and restore log dates.

The Microsoft SP3 compliance document can be found at

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

Many IT professionals had planned to use Windows NT Server 4.0 with SP3 into 2000. Those who want to stick with SP3 need to be aware of the service pack’s remaining known Y2K issues:

  • WINS/DHCP Admin show expiration dates incorrectly
. Expiration dates 2000 through 2009 display with only one digit (1/1/2000 displays as 1/1/0).
  • Custom date properties in .DOC property dialog box
  • . In Asian time zones of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) +8 and +9, a routine for setting custom dates in Word 97 automatically decreases the date one day.
  • BIOS Date Value does not immediately update on Jan. 1, 2000
  • . A delay of up to an hour can cause problems in dual-boot scenarios and automatic rebooting.
  • OLE Automation
  • . In places with calendars in addition to the Gregorian calendar, application functions depending on OLE Automation to interpret two-digit years don’t properly use the date window as set in Control Panel, Regional settings. This is only a problem if the date window has been changed from the default value of 1930-2029.
  • Incorrect date displayed when viewing a saved System Info Report
  • . Programs that use the COleDateTime function from MFC40.dll may incorrectly parse a date after the year 2000 (02/05/2000 may become 2/05/100).
  • Four-digit year format for non-English regional settings.
  • When certain settings (such as Hebrew or Japanese) are used in configuring a system’s Regional Settings Short Date Style, users may not be able to choose a four-digit year format.