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Microsoft Software The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Charging Businesses $4K for DST Fix 395

Posted by Zonk
from the pricey-way-to-tell-time dept.
eldavojohn writes "Microsoft has slashed the price it's going to charge users on the daylight saving time fixes. As you know, the federal law that moves the date for DST goes into effect this month. Although the price of $4000 is 1/10 of the original estimate Microsoft made, it seems a bit pricey for a patch to a product you've already paid for. From the article: 'Among the titles in that extended support category are Windows 2000, Exchange Server 2000 and Outlook 2000, the e-mail and calendar client included with Office 2000. For users running that software, Microsoft charges $4,000 per product for DST fixes. For that amount, customers can apply the patches to all systems in their organizations, including branch offices and affiliate.' The only thing they can't do, said a Microsoft rep, is redistribute them."
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Microsoft Charging Businesses $4K for DST Fix

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  • Screw 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:24PM (#18220018) Journal
    Manually adjust the clock. Just write a small script to take care of it for logins or as a scheduled task for servers.
    • Re:Screw 'em (Score:5, Informative)

      by iPaul (559200) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:29PM (#18220116) Homepage
      Kerberos auth has problems if the clocks are > 300 sec out of sync. It's not that you couldn't do it manually, you just run the risk of a "hickup", like no one in the domain is allowed to log in.
    • Re:Screw 'em (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anml4ixoye (264762) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:31PM (#18220132) Homepage
      Hahaha.

      As an engineer who is right in the middle of helping our customers make the changes necessary for the DST fix, it is much more complicated than that.

      First, you have all of the servers and clients which rely on one another. The biggest effect is on mail - Exchange/Outlook/OWA.

      Second, you have to do it in the right order, at about the same time. If you update the server, then clients who schedule appointments will be off until they update.

      Third, you've got software which calculates various things based on that date. Think financial transactions, etc.

      I've blogged about the tool [cornetdesign.com] we have to help customers figure out what has to be done.

      I wish it was as easy as just updating a script, but when you have to coordinate that change across 10s or 100s of thousands of servers, clients, etc, it's not an easy task.

      And let's not forget Microsoft isn't the only one having to make changes. Lotus Notes, Groupwise, Blackberries - they all have changes that have to be made. I'll personally be glad when this is all done. Ugh.
      • Re:Screw 'em (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:27PM (#18220504) Homepage
        But all Linux had to do was update its zone info stuff.

        Why is Windows so much harder? Didnt they do it properly?
        • Re:Screw 'em (Score:5, Informative)

          by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:39PM (#18220618)
          Its basically a Microsoft WTF. While every sane operating system keeps the hardware clock on universal time (UTC/GMT), Windows keeps the hardware clock on local time. This affects things like the date format stored on disk in the filesystem.
          • by jcr (53032)
            Windows keeps the hardware clock on local time.

            Are you serious? I mean, it sounds like the kind of thing MS would do, but that's really mind-bogglingly stupid.

            -jcr

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by toddestan (632714)
              That's the way its done. It's a holdover from the old DOS days, back then DOS computers generally weren't networked, and thus setting them to local time made sense.
          • Re:Screw 'em (Score:4, Insightful)

            by dotfile (536191) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @06:09PM (#18220858)

            Umm, that's not really the problem. It doesn't matter what the hardware clock is set for, UTC or local time. In any sane installation you're only going to use the hardware clock until you sync with the NTP servers anyway. The local time is still going to change on a different date than the OS is configured for. If you have Linux or UNIX boxes and keep the hardware clock set for UTC, you're STILL going to need to fix the time zone setings for the correct DST changeover dates, otherwise all local times will be off by an hour between the new changeover date and the old one. It's not a clock thing, it a time zone thing. We're having to apply patches to every single box in our infrastructure -- that's around 15,000 systems, not including desktops. Those add another 100K or more. We've had to patch Slowaris, Linux, HPUX, AIX, and a few flavors of Windoze, and that's just the servers. Then there are patches required for Java and a host of other crap, don't ask me why they don't just use the damn system clock.

            The issue here is not the DST patch, it's the fact that Micro$loth was charging $40K for the Windoze 2000 patch. They justified it because W2K is officially out of support for patches - it's EOL or EOSL, I don't remember which becuase I pay very little attention to Windoze server issues.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Tony Hoyle (11698)
              Any *application* that needs updating because of this is just plain broken. UTC is the only safe way to represent time... as has been proven over and over again. When will they learn?

              Updating the timezone files on a Unix OS is trivially easy and can be scripted over ssh normally.

              With Windows it's a *lot* harder because it really doesn't want to use UTC.. it always tries to start from local time and convert to it, and it does in fact get it wrong for about 6 months of the year (known bug, been there since
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by fyngyrz (762201) *
              it's EOL or EOSL, I don't remember which becuase I pay very little attention to Windoze server issues.

              Nah. It's SOL.

              I love Microsoft. First Vista, now this. They're making Sony look skilled at navigating the shoals of corporate error. Of course, it is important to remember who really fucked up: Congress, with this whole idiotic idea.

        • by twitter (104583) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:45PM (#18220696) Homepage Journal

          all Linux had to do was update its zone info stuff. Why is Windows so much harder? Didnt they do it properly?

          As an end user, it was even easier. All I did was apt-get update/upgrade.

          The difference between the free and non free worlds is never more glaring than when you "upgrade". Because non free companies don't trust each other or their users, they can't really co-operate. When they have to co-operate, things get sticky. Mechanisms, like the Windows registry, are so bad that it's easier to wipe and reload than it is to actually update software. What's a pain for individual users is multiplied by thousands for businesses and then compounded by the number of applications updated. A whole industry exists to help banks and other businesses do trivial things like change out versions of text editors and mail clients on ordinary workstations. It's a process that's excruciatingly manual, bandwith intensive and slow, with each person able to do less than ten machines a night. Add some smoke an mirrors timing "security"* into the mix and you have something even worse.

          *-there is no security on a platform with a one in four botnet ownership. The pain and expense are all for nothing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Caduceus1 (178942)
          You did know that not only did you have to update the zone stuff in Linux, but reboot as well, or at least restart all applications that make use of it (including syslog, apache, etc.)? Some vendors seem to have forgotten that bit of info in their instructions. We did some independent research to find out that updating the zoneinfo files alone wasn't enough - and then we started to see updated instructions from at least one vendor, where they tacked on the need to reboot...
      • by wfberg (24378)

        Second, you have to do it in the right order, at about the same time. If you update the server, then clients who schedule appointments will be off until they update.


        Huh? How does that happen, assuming you're a good boy and using timestamps in UTC in the first place? You know, the ones that look like "Sat, 3 Mar 2007 08:06:08 -0800 (PST)", the ones you find in e-mail headers for example?

        If Outlook can't cope with that, how can it cope with people in different offices with different timezones? Or people with
        • Huh? How does that happen, assuming you're a good boy and using timestamps in UTC in the first place? You know, the ones that look like "Sat, 3 Mar 2007 08:06:08 -0800 (PST)", the ones you find in e-mail headers for example?

          The problem is when that gets interpreted to the local machine.

          Let's say you schedule the above meeting during the DST change. If I don't have the update, when I get the alert, it will be an hour off because the calculation to local time will take into account the DST rules for you, but
  • Go Linux! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:26PM (#18220060) Homepage Journal

    It's hard to say this without sounding like a zealot, but these kinds of things are nothing but good for Free Software. This patch should be nothing more than an edit to a single configuration file (and if it's not, then that's another problem), but you can't download that change freely or give it to your friends? I can understand - even if I disagree - with not giving away your applications. I cannot be made to understand, though, not giving away trivial bugfixes.

    • Re:Go Linux! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by InsaneGeek (175763) <slashdot@nOSpaM.insanegeeks.com> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:01PM (#18220334) Homepage
      Is there actually a patch from Redhat/Suse/etc for systems that are as old as Win2k available? This really is about getting one from the original vendor, there are a number of different free ones available for Win2k but they don't come from MS which tends to be the kicker for some highly touchy organizations (ones that tend to be audited quite often, etc). Regarding Linux, it's basically in the exact same position; only I don't believe that can get a fix for Redhat 7.2 from the vendor, I could download/write my own which would be the equivalent of installing one of the non-MS provided Win2k DST fixes.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I haven't checked, but I'm pretty sure there is.

        On the other hand, if there isn't, any half-assed geek could write one and distribute it for free.

        As the guy said, this is -good- for FOSS. It highlights the kind of BS that you'll never have to put up with from FOSS.
      • Re:Go Linux! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kernelpanicked (882802) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:10PM (#18220386)
        You would be wrong. If you check the last few updates fedora-legacy made to RedHat 7.2 and 7.3's glibc, the fix is already there. I work for a web host, where there are still quite a few of these old machines left kicking so yes I had to verify this.
      • No reason why you cant just stick the new zone info files in to the old OS.
      • Is there actually a patch from Redhat/Suse/etc for systems that are as old as Win2k available?

        Sun offers patches for Solaris 8 [sun.com].

        Heck, last week I found some Documentation discussing manual workarounds for Java 1.1 (Written around 2005, when several nations first passed their DST changes); although I can't find the link now, and I think you need a Sun Support Contract to view the documentation .
      • Is there actually a patch from Redhat/Suse/etc for systems that are as old as Win2k available?

        The source for all of the patches is the timezone data published through the US NIH ftp site. (why National Institutes of Health - no idea, but this is the authoritative source). This data is published in System V zonedata format, ready to compile with your Unix's zic(1) command.


        ftp elsie.nci.nih.gov
        cd /pub
        bin
        get tzdata2007c.tar.gz
        quit
        tar zxf tzdata2007c.tar.gz northamerica
        zic northamerica

        You're done.

        If your serv

  • by ceresur (945388) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:27PM (#18220076)
    We are using this patch at my organization for all our Win2k and Win2k Server boxes out there (running legacy apps that we don't need to upgrade). http://www.intelliadmin.com/blog/2007/01/unofficia l-windows-2000-daylight.html [intelliadmin.com]
  • by pythas (75383) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:27PM (#18220086)
    It's not $4000 per product, it's $4000 for ALL the products

    They also provide a variety of workarounds (registry files you can apply, and scripts to apply to a large number of machines remotely) for Windows 2000. If you don't like that, there's unofficial patches as well (http://www.intelliadmin.com/blog/2007/01/unoffici al-windows-2000-daylight.html)

    Yay for overblown stories!
  • $4000 for a patch that modifies one line in the registry? That's gotta be the slickest scam ever, especially since there are a ton of manual fixes out there on the innurnet if you care to google a bit. People who are worried can always hire a computer professional to do it for a tenth of the price, I'm sure.
    • MS themselves provide a registry editing based fix for this - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/914387 [microsoft.com]

      This service is not the same, this is actual patches to the applications for those that dont want to make the fixes any other way. By the sound of it, this is quite generous - the $4,00 charge only applies to applications out of their 5 year support period.
  • innovation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Epiphenomenon (977580) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:38PM (#18220182)
    I for one think that $4000 for innovation like this is a small price to pay.
  • by astrosmash (3561) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:38PM (#18220184) Journal
    That was one expensive piece of pointless legislation.

    I've always felt that if we could harness all of the time and energy software developers and IT departments have spent over the years working on DST-related issues in software and apply it to some other purpose of good, we'd all be driving around in flying cars and taking vacations on the moon by now. It is 2007, after all. You know, the future?

    That's right. I'm blaming the state of the world on DST.
    • by Runefox (905204)
      Bah, it's not DST's fault. It's that everyone's too lazy to set their computer's time the same way they set their other clocks that this sort of thing happens. Better still, why not just have a single NTP server that pulls atomic time off the internet (pool.ntp.org anyone?) and lets the other computers on the network pull time from it? Much simpler, and accurate, too. Network time FTW.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ffsnjb (238634)
        ntp doesn't help here. ntp only fixes time skew from utc. Your OS is responsible for determining local time and presentation to the user according to their prefs.
    • by julesh (229690)
      That's right. I'm blaming the state of the world on DST.

      Actually, I think we should standardise on DST. I mean, I live in the UK, and right now it's getting light at about 7am and dark at about 6pm. If we were on DST, that would be 8am and 7pm, which ties in much better with the way most people want the day to run. It works out the same way almost all of the time.
      • by astrosmash (3561)
        Either way works for me. Or how about we split the difference and move the clocks a half-hour ahead once and for all.

        One thing is certain: the current method of adjusting the time twice a year is the worst and most expensive solution to a very trivial problem, especially in this day and age.
    • Re:Down with DST! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by theCoder (23772) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @06:25PM (#18220992) Homepage Journal
      Do what I do -- protest DST. I grew up in Indiana where they didn't participate in the DST silliness (Indiana recently caved to the peer pressure and now does do the switch). I've since moved to another state that does practice DST. For a few years, I went along with it, but last summer I decided to try not switching. I just got up earlier and mentally subtracted an hour from other people's times. It's a little confusing at times (especially when others send meeting notices that clearly say standard time but they mean daylight time), but otherwise it works very well. At work, I set my TZ variable correctly, and 90% of all the times I see on clocks are as I expect them. I plan on doing the same with this year's summer time.

      The thing I learned most from my experiment, however, is that it takes a lot of will power to get up earlier. Most people simply do not have the will power to get up and be in bed an hour earlier. And sadly, that's the reason we spend so much time, money, and effort on DST. Just to trick lazy people into getting out of bed an hour earlier. It's also the reason why a permanent year round DST (which I've seen some people advocate) is doomed to fail. People would just adjust and do everything an hour later (and then we'd need a 2 hour DST). Only the constant switching keeps them in line.

      So, while I personally despise DST as a ridiculous concept, it does have its uses.

  • by jjeffries (17675) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:43PM (#18220220)
    There's a free patcher here [intelliadmin.com] that I've used on a few 2k machines and one NT4 machine and nothing has blown up thus far.

    First link under "freeware downloads".
  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:47PM (#18220258)
    This just in - company charges money to do work for companies who are using an unsupported suite of products! Film at 11!

    I know in Soviet Russia that work was done for free for the betterment of ones comrades, but this isn't Soviet Russia quite yet. Companies charge you when they provide a service for you.

    • by cdrudge (68377)
      Hey hey hey. This is Slashdot. There is zero room for common sense and logic. However, knee jerk reactions, Microsoft FUD, and pure speculation is always welcomed.
  • by Windcatcher (566458) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:54PM (#18220296)
    I understand that they're charging $4000 for all of the patches, and on all of an enterprise's machines. I also understand that they're choosing to not offer the patch to private users for a nominal fee, nor are they offering the option to buy just this one patch for a lesser price. My response is that this is what you get when you have a monopoly: they can offer whatever they wish -- or, to not put too fine a point on it, choose to NOT offer whatever they wish -- and charge however many limbs they want for it. It's disgusting, and to me particularly offensive. I'm sure there will be rants about the evils of capitalism and such here -- this IS Slashdot, after all -- and I can't really disagree here. I'm about as far to the right as they come and as rabid a capitalist as you'll ever see but this just makes us look bad. Capitalism REQUIRES adequate levels of competition to function properly and what you're seeing here is what happens when that competition is absent.
    • How is that a result of monopoly? There are free 3rd party patches that work. Now if Microsoft prevented 3rd party patches, that would be another issue.
  • TZEdit (Score:4, Informative)

    by HeyBob! (111243) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @04:55PM (#18220306)
    I've been using tzedit.exe (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/914387 [microsoft.com]) for manually updating a few old pc's
  • If you want them to update Solaris 7 or earlier, it'll cost you $10,000/server with a cap of $150,000. Highway robbery if you ask me.

    We're just modifying the timezone files with zic.

    As much as I dislike MS, they're not alone in the highway robbery department here.
    • by bdigit (132070)
      um 10k a server? Are you sure that quote wasn't to migrate you over to solaris 10? It only cost us 400 per server.
  • I personally think that businesses should be able to write off the time and money they spend on DST patching. It was the government that wants this DST change.

    The amount of downtime we've endured in our company is horrendeous because of this DST change. We have no choice but to install these poorly tested patches.
    • by theNote (319197)
      What makes you think they don't?
      Its an expense just like everything else (aka, salaries, software, etc...)
  • by Kjella (173770)
    Although the price of $4000 is 1/10 of the original estimate Microsoft made, it seems a bit pricey for a patch to a product you've already paid for.

    Well, it's not a bug fix. The products work to spec and have done so throughout their product life and general support, and right now they're in a "security/critical fix only" extended support. If I had to put programmers to update anything else, I'd want to get paid. I don't know how many takers they'll have on this offer, but to a large corporation $4000 for t
  • by Christopher_G_Lewis (260977) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:21PM (#18220462) Homepage
    This fee is all inclusive. That means any product in extended support, and any DST related patch.

    So that includes:
        Windows 2000 Server straight DST patch
        Windows 2000 CRT DST patch (Never heard of that one? See here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932955/en-us/ [microsoft.com] and here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932590/en-us/ [microsoft.com]
        Exchange running on W2K
        Visual Studio 6.0 patches (I believe...)

    So $4000 to cover *all* unsupported systems, and to have a human to call and say "Your patch screwed up my server" and have them fix it, is to be cliche, Priceless
       
  • ..or just DIY (Score:4, Informative)

    by ph43thon (619990) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:27PM (#18220510) Journal
    This is absurd. Just go here [microsoft.com] and follow the instructions.

    Three steps.

    1. Create .reg file by copy/pasting from that page.
    2. Create .vbs file by copy/pasting from that page.
    3a. Create GPO to import reg key and run VBScript on Win2k machines at Startup.
    or
    3b. In absence of AD, modify script to copy itself and .reg file to all Win2k machines and apply fix.

    If you're such a small organization that you don't have an I.T. group.. then.. it's probably simple to use TZEdit to update your piddly network.

    For fun, you can trick out the script to make sure it only runs once.
  • I bet it's cheaper to upgrade to the next version!

    Oh snap...
  • Not so Crazy... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @05:53PM (#18220754)
    Remember the batch of F-22 stealth fighters the lost everything but their flight-control computers when they crossed over the international dateline earlier this month? [slashdot.org]

    Well, that's certainly not the first time F-22's have flown across the pacific, and they never had that problem before. It was because of the DST patch to their systems, the engineers skipped the regression tests that involved the dateline because it was just a patch for the US timezones. Look what happened.

    So, while it may seem simple enough to change the DST handling in MS Windows, don't count on it.
    Whenever you mess around with time, it is easy to create unexpected results. (cue time-travel jokes)
  • My first language is portuguese, and the portuguese acronym for STD-Sexually Transmitted Disease is DST. For one moment, I though that Microsoft has infected some of their users with some Sexually Transmitted Disease and was going to charge them for the cure
    But what is really impressive, is that I'd just found this as something natural for microsoft, and it took me a whole 5 seconds to realize that the english acronym is different. It really says a lot about my perceptions on Microsoft. Any other portugues
  • FREE Update (Score:3, Informative)

    by BanjoBob (686644) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @06:27PM (#18221006) Homepage Journal
    You know that M$ is totally ripping you off when you can go to www.IntelliAdmin.com [intelliadmin.com] and get a FREE patch. I've used their patches in the past and often times they are a LOT cleaner and easier to use than those from the GREEDY M$.

    Always worth a try!

  • Personal Users? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shabadage (1037824)
    I still use 2K, so am I basically screwed on getting the DST right on my system? Or will there be a free patch for end users? I'm sure if I asked someone at M$ that, I'd get the response "Upgrade to VISTA"; which is NOT going to happen; my system doesn't need to be any slower thank you, it's already 5 years old. I'm not too concerned (Hell, I don't even keep a firewall active on my home system; but that's) cause I don't do ANYTHING of value on it. Just wondering.
  • I'd love to see someone total up the dollars lost because Congress decided to change DST without giving 5-10 years' head start.

    By the way, a LOT of VCRs and other embedded-systems clocks will never again pick up DST correctly. I've told people to turn DST off on clocks and older PCs and just change the clocks manually.
  • If you have contracted extended support then no, that should be free. Thats what 'extended support' should mean.. they support you.

    Now, if you want a patch for a product that is OUT of support ( like NT4, or exchange 5.5 ), then a resonable fee should apply.

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