The outage on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform that caused the UK government’s G-Cloud service to go offline was the result of a calculation error caused by the extra day in February due to the leap year.

Writing on the Azure blog the firm’s corporate vice president for service and cloud, Bill Laing, said while the firm had still to fully determine the cause of the issue, the extra date in the month appeared the most likely cause…

“While final root cause analysis is in progress, this issue appears to be due to a time calculation that was incorrect for the leap year…”

“Some sub-regions and customers are still experiencing issues and as a result of these issues they may be experiencing a loss of application functionality. We are actively working to address these remaining issues,” he added.

The outage affected customers across the globe, with the G-Cloud service from the government one of the most high-profile accounts to be affected, as it was only launched last week as part of Whitehall’s attempt to improve the use of IT services in the public sector.

There still isn’t a patch for stupid.



  1. Phydeau says:

    CLOUD: Complete Loss Of User Data

  2. bferry says:

    Put the blame where it belongs – on the programmers who didn’t code for it, the supervisors who didn’t catch the omission and the Quality Control people who didn’t test for it.

    This assumes that anybody was really DOING quality control of course.

    • Yaknow says:

      Hey, what do you expect it is Microsoft par for the course. Prophetic isn’t? They really are living up to the word cloud. “Poof” it’s gone… evaporated like a cloud.

    • Peppeddu says:

      I wonder that’re using for developing the Azure infrastructure.

      In C# and VB.NET all I have to do is .AddYear(1) and I am done. Never have to check for that kind of stuff manually.
      My sites worked beautifully doing time calculation across time-zones during the leap day.

      • jasontheodd says:

        Calender calculators for writing software are nearly as old as the web, how the hell did a company using such calculators for decades not know how to do so now???

  3. Yaknow says:

    I love it, “there isn’t a patch for stupid.”

  4. pedro says:

    Keep living in a cloud. What a generation of morons.

  5. Richard says:

    Impromtu government holiday.

  6. Jason Howe says:

    Friggin’ really Microsoft?

    When all your zunes when tits-up 4 years ago, you didn’t learn anything, did you?

  7. MS, I believe this problem was solved even before Y2k.

  8. msbpodcast says:

    Its called a calendar.

    Leap year happen cyclicly, every four years, like clockwork.

    I guess if you’re Microsoft you don’t focus on anything longer term than the next quarter. Besides you might be fired by then anyway…

    Still, I’d bet there some major ass covering going on in Redmond right now.

    • deowll says:

      It’s a bit more complex than that but near enough.

      • Nobody says:

        Give them a chance, they’ve only had since 1752 – look how long it’s taken for them to get used to metric

  9. Rabble Rouser says:

    I guess it’s still Office 365… Even in a leap year!

    • msbpodcast says:

      It should be 365.2524 days/year with some seconds in added there occasionally to adjust for the slowing of earths rotation and for natural disasters (like the 9.0 Japan earthquake which took a second off the earth’s rotation.)

  10. msbpodcast says:

    I can’t figure the people who talk smack about anybody who doesn’t like Windows and instead likes Unix (Mac OS X and iOS and Linux are all based on Unix.)

    Microsoft’s been an embarrassment to itself since Gates was screaming at his Windows 1.0 developers to “Make it more like the Mac!”

    Unfortunately, one of the things Microsoft has never learned, and has demonstrated on numerous occasions, is that they don’t understand the function of quality control.

  11. George says:

    This is funny. I was doing financial programming in the 90s (on OS/2) and it was important to know what day of the year it was, so I had to code for leap years. Nobody told me to do this, and yes I even tested my code for Y2K issues.

    Speaking of time bugs in software. Has there been a credible solution for the Unix Y2K38 bug?

  12. John S says:

    I’m on the floor LOL with that one. No wonder Windows 8 is so lame.

  13. JimD, Boston, MA says:

    Wonder if M$ Programmers can walk and chew gum at the same time ???

  14. John Steele says:

    Maybe there are no leap years and therefore no extra days in the Chinese calendar? The coders for MS who live and work there probably never even thought of it.

    Don’t even ask me what I think of Win7 (who’s the idiot who decided that ‘your’ files had to be buried down in the bowels of some hidden folder?).

    • pedro says:

      You sure they’re Chinese? I think they’re from Bangalore or any other Hindu city

  15. Micromike says:

    Bullet proof date handling routines have been around for almost 50 years and are repeatedly published in books and magazines as they are one of the first things a would be programmer must master. Not surprising to me that nobody remembers how to do it or cares enough to be sure the basics are being well handled.

    Good programmers seem to be incredibly scarce at Microsoft and have been for a long time. The same problem persistently heckles Autocad users who used to deal with bugs that had been documented for decades, but not fixed.

  16. Dr Spearmint Fur says:

    Date handling is one of those QA’s remember to do. Developers and ops generally forget. This is a team smell.

    Microsoft is being shaken up on the inside. Whether you like Windows 8 or not at least they’ve stopped sitting still waiting for the world to come to them. As for this Azure problem? It looks the Sinofskyization of Microsoft hasn’t reached the Azure group yet.

  17. jpfitz says:

    I see a mac cult forming on DU. All hail the “I”.

    • Dr Spearmint Fur says:

      Why?

      • pedro says:

        Because some people think that if you are critical of ms, you’re a macfan.

        Only thing I can give the MS fans is that they’re not as annoying as macfans, just a bunch of cry babies.

      • jpfitz says:

        Come on Fur you don’t see a trend here on DU. The only MS user appears to be Pedro, or maybe he’s the only one to admit it. Maybe I’m wrong but since the web portal to DU was opened by JCD changing the name from “Uncensored” to “News Blog” a slew of new readers and commenters visit. That’s a good thing although the Mac fans can be a bit over the top.

        I am no MS fanboy, I initially stuck with DOS and steered clear of windows until I had no choice. Just not intrigued by Apple at all, especially their policy about what hardware and software your “allowed”. The “will it work with a Mac” problem kept me using MS.

        The software I used at work for manufacturing only ran on a MS platform, I’ve been using machines since the 8088.

        Oh yea… @ Pedro, whaah, whaah, whaah. You must be crying all the time, you MS user.

        Holy shit a one word question answered with a short essay.

        • pedro says:

          Oh, c’mon! macfans are hilarious.

          • jpfitz says:

            Only the die hard dyed-in-the-wool fanboys are that funny. The rest are just hypnotized by their shiny toys.

        • Dr Spearmint says:

          Well there isn’t a lot of interesting news coming out of Redmond these days, so the lack of stories around MS. This story is about ops and MS’s inability to crack top tier SLA’s. Amazon is eating everyone alive in this sector – which is why Dropbox backs onto S3.

          Guys like pedro and Dallas are trolls. Neither really care about technology nor really know anything about it. Others view MS vs Mac as a right vs left issue. All of them are predictable and boring. Look at most of the posters in this thread – 90% couldn’t even tell you what Azure actually is.

          Any really interesting tech stories won’t show up here. The sad truth is tech reporting is mostly shlock anyways. Most tech reporters sit around all day trolling twitter feeds and rehashing other people’s hash. MG Siegler went off the deep end on this a couple of weeks ago. That would have a good tech feed to run here.

          I listen to and read Dvorak on his tech reporting. I don’t always agree with him or expect him to be a perfect prognosticator. I like him because he doesn’t hide behind lame second hand guesses, he talks about things others don’t, and he has a real opinion and will admit when he’s wrong. Even if he is grumpy about it.

          • jpfitz says:

            Amazon is eating the planet alive. It’s akin to the ice cream truck excitement as a youngster, except now we all wait for the UPS truck for our fix. Should have bought stock, oh well.

            I am starting to see the benefits of the “cloud”, I can remember JCD poo pooing the idea of anyone using such services on Cranky Geeks years ago. I have a 50GB free Box account on an android device. 50GB, who would have believed me ten years ago I’d have 50GB in the “cloud” available anywhere.

            Storage is cheap nowadays and some customer applications could benefit with Azure as long as the system is running. If I had a business I would be hard pressed to trust Azure.

            PC vs Mac is fun to watch from the side lines.

          • pedro says:

            50 gb available… as long as the system is there, the company doesn’t backtrack on their promise or is not a leap year.

            Good luck with that.

            And you call yourself computer savvy

  18. Likes2LOL says:

    After Y2K, you’d have thought M$ had this all squared away.

    WTF, did these guys go to school with the metric measurment experts at NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter program?

    I sure hope there aren’t any mission-critical systems running on Microsoft software…

  19. Dr Spearmint says:

    jpfitz said: I am starting to see the benefits of the “cloud”…

    The mentality towards managing your data anywhere is the same regardless of using the cloud (what a stupid term) or not. A good metric is “if my house burned down along with my laptop, then how long before I would be back in business?”.

    Remember that includes apps and data. Also you have to factor in how much your data is worth to you. It doesn’t cost much to have data security but you can spread the risk around. Have local and offsite redundancy. Use vendors that are SAS70 compliant if you’re running a business. Pick vendors that support Windows, Mac and Linux.

    I don’t like the Box model as much as Dropbox or Sugarsync because it’s more difficult to provide redundancy. Don’t rely on any of them to provide industrial strength backup and recovery, but they are extremely convenient and worth using.

    I can start with a clean Linux or Mac and be completely ready to go in about an hour. If I’m at home then I can shave 20 minutes or so off that because I can rebuild from a local backup. The only exception is my video. Windows takes 2-3 longer because the app installs are long and Windows updates take forever. I have triple redundancy on all my data and quadruple on my active projects. The extra stuff for active projects is for fine grained version control.

    The setup takes a less than an hour. Local backup should be automatic when you’re on your home network and costs <$100 to get going. An industrial strength offsite storage mechanism will run you about $100 per year per provider. Review all their privacy and security policies (e.g. 448-bit encryption, external audit, SAS70 or HIPPA style compliance, etc). Finally run a disk check on your local backup media regularly.

    Last question for you: if your laptop or phone was stolen could you wipe it remotely?

    • jpfitz says:

      Dr said,
      “Don’t rely on any of them to provide industrial strength backup and recovery”

      Agree completely with you. I only use the BOX and Dropbox for photos and the like which I have backed-up on a spare external HD stored in a water and fire proof safe.

      “if your laptop or phone was stolen could you wipe it remotely?”

      To answer you query I am old school and don’t have a smart phone. Eighty dollars a year for a throwaway Kyocera phone has been my portable electronic. I did just purchase a Samsung Galaxy 5 for kicks and have local cable service with wi-fi hot spots plentiful. I can make calls and text for free with google. I don’t see a need today for a laptop with these new smaller devices, at least I have no need. Yes, backing up and restoring with MS is a pain in the ass, I tried Linux but again the software needed only runs on MS. Why install a Virtual machine when I have a real machine, albeit a MS Gates pain in the butt to back-up and restore. Why fight the beast. Your turn-around time for what you need sounds very good and I salute you Spearmint. I’m being honest not sarcastic. I’d love to have a Mac to play with, I just can’t afford a new computer or get my better half to understand why I would need one. She is tech challenged and worried about how to use the equipment in our house if I were to die as it is now. She can’t even grasp the concept of and fears my Harmony One remote control. The only electronics my better half uses is the cable DVR, and when a problem arises I’m the genius. Har.

      • Dr Spearmint Fur says:

        I’ve got to admit I’m a nutter about this but my entire work life is in my data and I pooched 3 disks in 5 years. If you ever want off site I’d recommend CrashPlan. Great deals for US vets as well.

  20. Glenn E. says:

    Sounds like Microsoft is still relying on newbie programmers, still wet behind the ears from college, who probably didn’t learn about leap year during their time in classes, learning how to make video games, to create most of Microsoft more serious software. Too bad they apparently don’t believe it must be quality controlled more seriously than games. Is it all just the same code to them? Something to make money selling? With little regard for the potential loss of intellectual property, should it fail. There’s a lot more at stake here, than the loss of one’s high scores. But you can be sure that Microsoft won’t be indemnifying any of its customers for their loss.