Sunday, January 13, 2008

Microsoft Y2K bug circa 1998?


So this will make a fabulous second post for my second blog.

On January 8th of this week my parents received a phone call which they dodged because the call was coming through at 11:00 p.m. at night.

The next day they retrieved the voicemail message which was from Microsoft technical support calling *me* back to see if my problem has been resolved.

I told my folks that the caller was obviously phishing for information for some kind of identity theft and that neither they or I should return a call to the toll free number. I hadn't lived with my parents for many years and it didn't make sense for Microsoft to have called me at their home number.

But then after I calmed down, I reversed phone searched the toll free number which appeared to be a legitimate Microsoft Number.

Then I recalled that I had called Microsoft not once, but twice (possibly as many as 3 different times).

I remember in the past year or so when I called Microsoft and the problem was not resolved (BSOD after Microsoft patch) that Microsoft did call me back the next day to see if i made any progress in my little computer crises (which I though was super cool of them... I was really impressed)...
but wait a second .... or wait 315,569,260 seconds ....
Microsoft hadn't done this (call me back that is) the first time I called ... and I called many years ago.... but that must have been when I was living at home with my parents..... which is why they called me at my parents phone number.

Look at the top of your keyboard....

On January 7, 1998
a Tech Support person typed into their database to call me back the next day...
but instead of typing 1/8/98 they typed 1/8/08

Instead of typing the "9" right next to it they typed "0"

Microsoft had called me back 10 years later!

More on this story as it develops...

34 comments:

Roberto Ritter de Oliveira Filho said...

No way... LOL

-RiveR StyX- said...

Gotta be a hoax. I hope to god it is.

Brian said...

I hope as a result of this being posted on both Consumerist and Digg, Microsoft will add a sanity check to their support software to ask "Are you sure you want to schedule a call back 10 years and 1 day from now?" LOL!

Hopefully in the last 10 years someone has accounted for this type of mistake.

Bran said...

I work with MS Professional Support, and I highly doubt that we'd leave a case open for so long. It differs from department to department, but there is a set period for how long we can leave a case unattended to, while still leaving it open. 10 years is definitely a long time to have a case open, though I have seen cases open for more than a year - with continuing contact in the interim.

There's a chance it might have happened but I'm sceptical.

Andrew M. B. Boktor said...

does this mean they call all their customers again to check the progress of their crisis once every 100 years? LOOOL

they will call you next time 2108 :D.

AlphaCentauri said...

So we know in January 1998 Microsoft had not yet attended to their Y2K issues, or else typing "08" instead of "98" it wouldn't have defaulted to 2008.

Vincent Time said...

I don't think it's real, only for the date :
Around the 9 key it's an 8 or 6 or +
Nobody, including the worth PC user
use Alphanumerical keyboard (Even in 1998 !)
Does anyone when typing a date use it ?
I don't think so.

But let's take a look at your story :
11:00 PM Does Microsoft Support call you back at this time ?
They have local area, local office and they don't call back at night.

And afterall if the story is not a future urban legend, it's a funny story, and ask Microsoft a compensation delay....

ianaz said...

uahahah :D

JM said...

I hope you weren't waiting for the fix for the last 10 years

Dorman said...

so M$ has used the *same* helpdesk software for over 10 years? That's a bit hard to believe....unless it runs on *nix.

johnsquibb said...

i have to agree with Vincent Time that the tech support person would probably be typing on the ten-key...I don't type a tenth as much in a day as the average tech support guy and I never use the numbers above the letters.

SuperStretch said...

@dorman
Doesn't mean they use the same software- but I'm sure they're using the same data within a database.

John said...

While I am also skeptical of this story I do have something to add on the use of the 10 key numbers or the above letter numbers.

I never use the above letter, but I work with ppl that type all day, as I do, and never use the 10 keys. They are pretty decent typists, they just got used to that and that's all they use.

Richard said...

I'm skeptical about this, so I've decided to test it out myself. I'll let you know of the results in 19 years...

Kurt Schroeder said...

I work for IBM's iSeries/i5 support and all of our trouble tickets (PMRs) are assigned to an indivual ID and placed on a callback queue. We use the priority (our decision) and severity (customer decision) to know who to call back when. It works very well, and our customer satisfaction is very high.

As for time open, I have had calls open for a couple of years at a time. (Problems can change. Often hard to recreate, harder to fix, etc...) But we always know who we need to call back when.

So I find this one of the following:

1. A heartwarming story about a boy and a CMS with no checks and balances.

2. A cleverly written fabrication.

In any case, a good way to get traffic from Slashdot.

Cory Foy said...

I'm slightly skeptical as well. Maybe you could post the case number so those of us who have access to those kinds of tools could see it? (If they happened to give it to you)

Robert said...

It seems silly to dismiss this because you cannot believe someone uses a keyboard in a way you do not. I use both sets of number keys depending on what the repetition calls for, etc..

I would suspect this was a 'normal' tech support person who was trained only for that job and not a 'real' technical person...or at least enough to get a job as helpdesk, which is as easy as getting a job at a c-store.

Thomas said...

I love how everyone is so skeptical. There is NO WAY to say that this couldn't happen at a corporation THAT big that is constantly training AND outsourcing technical support. And, we never knew if Y2K was going to affect the calendar in ways predicted. I say totally POSSIBLE.

DJ_Frashn said...

haha! nice.

you never know it could have been m$ dodgy CRM software, do they use this as internal support ticketing system? hmmm.

paulatz said...

@Vincent Time:
I have been using computer for ~15 years, I think I have *never* used the numpad to type a number, actually I think I had only used it to play tetris.

NickG said...

I'm a full time software developer and I NEVER use the numeric keypad except when doing a long string of calculations when using Windows Calc.

Most touch-typists use the top-row keys rather than the num-keypad because it's quicker and your hands are already in the right place. Non touch-typists might use the numeric keypad but I doubt that many people working full time in tech support would NOT know how to touch-type. Transposing 9 and 0 is very easy as they are right next to each other so I can easily believe this mistake is possible.

As to "why would they be using the same support software after 10 years". Why wouldn't they? We're all still using Windows 10 years later so why is this any different? They probably developed it in-house and have been keeping it up to date, so it would never be like using a 10 year old system.

Everyone's missing the really obvious point - why would you bother to actually make this story up? It's not even all that funny.

kuriharu said...

I'm still skeptical, not because of how people type but because of how tech support calls are handled.

Most help desks close tickets whether they've been fixed or not. I've had calls where the issue isn't resolved but the help desk tech says they'll close the ticket for now and it can be reopened.

Help Desk jockeys usually have to fulfill quotas or not keep calls open for too long. I can't imagine a ticket being open for years (let alone 10) and a supervisor didn't say "Hmmm. Why is this open? Oh, they have to call in 2008. I'll leave it up to the tech."

Also, it's rare that any tech support company would call a customer at 11 PM. You can call them at that time but the converse is rare.

But it is a clever story, and I can't rule it out as false. Until MS confirms it, though, it'll have to be filed under "unconfirmed".

NickG said...

True but when you have several thousand open queries at any one time, I wouldn't be surprised if one call could go astray. Most support ticket systems designed for this level use can archive tickets which have received no activity in x days (even if they're still open) so it's possible that this issue simply wasn't visible on the normal interfaces and so never got closed or attended to. Don't forget, a lot of the time it's the customer that doesn't follow up - not just MS themselves. Often I ask users for more information and they never bother to reply or tell me they've fixed the problem, so the ticket remains open even when I archive it (as an open ticket). It's no different to archiving an unread email.

Klezmorim said...

I used to work for Microsoft Product Support Services and can tell you that it was only natural for a tech to review the case notes before placing a call-back. Ya think they might've thought something was a bit fishy about a 10-year-old trouble ticket?

Also arguing against the veracity of this story is one detail no one has yet to comment on: Which Microsoft product in use in 1998 is still being supported? Win9x? Nope. WinNT? Nope. Office 97? Outlook 97? MS Project? (Ahem) Microsoft Bob? Nope, nope, nope and, uh, nope.

But this is one heck of a funny story!

wOnDeR said...

Just to add...I work in PSS and our internal tools do not have that long of a data retention. It is 6 months for some data and about 2-3 years for "archived" items.

The author of this story is an idiot to think their readers are all idiots and stupid to believe this load of crap.

Pall said...

I would say that this is a case for Mythbusters

Bara said...

Look at your keyboard. You would not type "08" instead of "98" - instead you would type "09". BUT suppose you missed the 9 altogether and typed 1/7/8? That might do the trick. It's still a mystery why they would call at 11 PM; maybe they were working late trying to reduce the backlog of help tickets. :-)

ShamNE.O said...

congrats! your story actually made it to the Stuff Magazine (april, top of page 26) that's how i found this blog! so, i'm curious.. did solve your problem with the computer? lol!

BIC said...

Thanks ShamNE.O ... I recently bought an e-machine with Vista....
let's see what kind of fun we can have!

Mauloof Ahmed said...

Cannot believe that microsoft personnel is so lame and dumb.

And great story! LOL

ijaz gill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ijaz gill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ijaz gill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ijaz gill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.