March 2, 1999 9:40 AM PST

Windows may crash after 49.7 days

A bizarre and probably obscure bug will crash some Windows computers after about a month and a half of use.

The problem, which affects both Microsoft Windows 95 and 98 operating systems, was confirmed by the company in an alert to its users last week.

"After exactly 49.7 days of continuous operation, your Windows 95-based computer may stop responding," Microsoft warned its users, without much further explanation. The problem is apparently caused by a timing algorithm, according to the company.

Microsoft has posted a fix for the problem, but cautions that the patch has not yet been completely tested and should only be downloaded by users affected by the problem. However, if you have used your computer for two months straight without a problem, it is probably safe to assume that you are not affected.

Microsoft confirmed the bug warning, but could not be reached to elaborate on how many users the problem will hit, exactly why the glitch occurs, or when a more reliable fix will be available.

Microsoft is in the process of testing a collection of bug fixes for Windows 98, and in fact released the second version of the OEM (original equipment manufacturers) Service Release (OSR) to beta testers, according to a report from beta tester Web site BetaNews. Microsoft confirmed it has released the second OSR beta.

Microsoft will likely include the fix in the OSR, which will eventually be shipped to PC makers to load onto new systems. In addition to this fix, OSR also includes:

  • Internet Explorer 5

  • Microsoft Active Accessibility

  • WebTV for Windows Update

  • Microsoft NetMeeting

  • Internet Connection Sharing

  • Signature Verification Tool

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