The portable e-mail gadgets, desktop calendar software and other digital aids by which many American executives organise their lives could start to run mildly haywire next month if companies do not take action to correct a software glitch.
For ordinary consumers, the same technology problem is likely to show up in unexpected ways – for instance, when older video recorders turn on to record TV shows an hour after they were meant to. The potential annoyances are part of a broad technology problem associated with this year’s early shift to daylight saving time in the US.
The widespread nature of the problem this will cause for computer systems is being compared to the Y2K, or millennium bug, issue.
The disruption is the result of US legislation passed two years ago to extend daylight saving time in the US to save energy. Rather than going forward one hour in the first week in April, as was the custom before, clocks in the US will change on March 11 this year and will be put back one week later than normal in the autumn.
Many widely used software programmes, including the Windows PC operating system, were designed to change the hour automatically, meaning that, unless they are fixed with a software “patch”, they will continue to function according to the old formula.
The aggravation caused by the technology flaw is likely to be “very wide and not very deep”, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, an industry trade group.