Microsoft fixed a Y2K-style bug that broke Exchange messaging

Microsoft begins 2022 with a flashback to Year 2000 bugs. Beeping computer reports that the company released an interim fix for a bug that interrupted email delivery for on-premises Exchange 2016 and 2019 servers on New Years Day. As users discovered, Exchange was trying to store checks version date for its virus scanning engine in a 32-bit integer variable – a big problem when a date from January 1, 2022 was too long. Any new check would crash the malware engine and leave the emails stuck in a queue.

The emergency fix uses a PowerShell script to suspend two services, replace old anti-virus engine files with newer files that use a new number sequence, and restart operations. The fix requires manual entry and can take a long time to implement for large companies, but an automatic solution is in development.

It should not affect other Exchange clients. The timing is also ‘ideal’, as a holiday weekend has likely limited the demand for emails. However, the company’s IT officials probably didn’t want to start patching the 2022 servers, and it’s unclear why Microsoft didn’t predict a date issue with software released just a few years ago. Whatever the reasoning, this serves as a clear lesson in anticipating date bugs.

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