Be Careful: Microsoft Only Has 980 Years to Address This 'Y3K' Bug in Windows 10

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Time travelers beware: Reddit user "DeadMan3000" warned Gigabyte motherboard owners yesterday to make sure they don't mistakenly set the date past January 18, 3001 if they plan to install the Windows 10 November 2019 Update on their systems.

Failing to heed that advice could "result in a lockup at first boot," DeadMan3000 said, even if the date is changed in the BIOS. And so we have the Y3K bug to follow the Y2K bug that caused mass panic as the millennium approached two decades ago.

YouTuber Carey Holzman demonstrated the bug affecting Gigabyte motherboards that support Intel and AMD chipsets alike. But there is some good news: people have to manually enter a date past January 18, 3001 for the bug to affect them.

Is this ideal? No. It's easy to make typos while entering dates, and nobody should have to deal with boot problems because they accidentally skipped a few centuries. Ideally people would be able to enter any date they please without problems.

Luckily we have 980 years, 10 months and 17 days for Microsoft and Gigabyte to address this problem before it's actually cause for concern. We're probably going to have far greater obstacles to overcome in the intervening centuries.

Leap Day, Though...

More frustrating than the Y3K bug were the errors caused by the Leap Day that occurred on Saturday. It seems like some systems weren't ready for there to be a February 29, 2020 even though the day's existence shouldn't have been a surprise.

Microsoft software engineer Matt Johnson-Pint has been collecting some of these Leap Day bugs on his blog. The issues were more widespread than one might expect, and several of them remain unresolved, so they're of greater priority than Y3K.

This seems to be the year of date-related software problems. Some devices couldn't handle 2020 at all (who can relate?) when it arrived on January 1. Now we're reached March 2 and there are already of these problems. How many more will there be?

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • velocityg4
    I'm still hoping Apple will release a patch for vintage 68K Macs. Come the year 29,940 they'll have date issues.:rolleyes:
  • cholzman
    I really wish the journalist would have reached out to me and learned this is a REAL problem now, not 900+ years from now. Also, the journalist gives credit to a reddit poster, not to me. Finally, the journalist doesn't even know that I, too, have written articles published by Tom's Hardware in the past. Also, the author should consider his source. I think knowing a little more about me would help establish confidence:
    Also, who wrote this article?,1126.html

    Or this one?,1102.html

    To fully understand this Y3K story, please read this article:
    Sorry, feeling like there was zero due diligence here, though I am grateful it was considered newsworthy.
  • bit_user
    Luckily we have 980 years, 10 months and 17 days for Microsoft and Gigabyte to address this problem before it's actually cause for concern.
    What about the 2038 bug? It might sound like a long way off, but we're more than half-way between y2k and 2038.

    Though it's mostly a UNIX thing, don't pretend there aren't APIs and programs on Windows that use that date format, as well.
  • Dracovish
    Hey Nathaniel Mott, are you planning on updating the article with what the Y3K bug is actually about? Clearly, you wrote this article based on very little understanding of the actual problem. Perhaps you didn't think much of researching at the time, but after others point out your mistakes, I would hope you would do something about it. I would hope any journalist would.

    The problem is less that you can't set the date something crazy and more the hurdle that Windows makes to fix it. It's even spreadable to other motherboards because of how this bug functions. In the least, it's good for people to know this problem exists so they can deal with it.

    On top of that, it shows there's a possible vulnerability that could be exploited if Windows has that much control over your motherboard settings.