Hoping to get out in front of a potentially disastrous programming flaw, Microsoft released today Office 366, an updated version of its Office 365 hosted services that will function properly during leap years. Microsoft feared that if Office 365 had to timestamp documents with a Feb. 29 date, the service would shut down completely for the user.
"Microsoft is perhaps being overly cautious," said analyst Reginald Cousins. "It's worried that this Leap Year bug could be like Y2K, except with real consequences. At a time when it's trying hard to become a major player in the cloud, it can't afford to have its efforts undone by something so trivial as an extra day every four years."
The flaw was discovered when a Microsoft employee who was born on Feb. 29 attempted to look up his birthday for 2012, only to find that the date was inaccessible. The employee found that Office 365 simply doesn't recognize Feb. 29, and if it is forced to, it freezes. Office 366 ensures that the hosted services will recognize Feb. 29 as a valid date.
Most Office 365 users are unlikely to suffer any adverse effects, but all the same, Microsoft is recommending that they switch to Office 366 as a precautionary measure.