Microsoft Outlook sends users back to 1930 with (very) mini-Millennium-Bug glitch

Planes unlikely to fall out of sky after December 31, 2029, El Reg can confirm

Microsoft has released a (very) miniature rival to the Millennium Bug into the wild with a glitch in Outlook that takes the user instead back to the 20th century if they seek dates beyond December 31, 2029.

Those with long enough memories will recall the Millennium Bug, a feature of software design resulting in two-digit date fields which failed to accommodate the new century beyond the end of 1999. To save memory, early coders used the shortcut, never expecting their creations to last so long.

Blowing up into a phenomenon which even merited its own logo in the UK, the mission to fix the glitch was either an overblown scam to suck money into the tech industry or a well-planned exercise in risk avoidance, depending on who you believe.

Microsoft's Outlook glitch is nothing like that but is a tad embarrassing for the global software giant, which perhaps needs to sort it out.

An eagle-eyed infosec pro spotted the problem and described it to the world in a LinkedIn post. The Register has replicated it on a desktop-bound Outlook app (Office 365), linked to an online account.

In short, the application won't let the user navigate to a date after December 31, 2029, using the date field [Ctrl + G] and abbreviating the year. If they key in the 01/01/30, Outlook sends the user back to 1930, where they may have to deal with a collapsing global economy and rising fascism.

Keen users can test this with a control: key in 31/12/29 and they will land in the future to enjoy floating skateboards and food in pill form. If they key in the date in full, they seem to end up in the correct era. Using the GUI and clicking a diary entry after 2030 seems to work fine, too.

In comparison with the existential challenges facing humanity, an Outlook date glitch may seem a small thing. But still one worth fixing.

The Reg has asked Microsoft to comment. ®

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