Microsoft extends free time zone updates

Software maker will offer free time zone and daylight saving patches twice a year, even for products that are out of mainstream support.

Microsoft said Wednesday that it is changing its support policies to offer customers more time zone and daylight saving time updates at no extra charge.

Previously, Microsoft had offered the updates free while products were in their mainstream support phase (typically five years from a product's release). However, it had required customers who wanted updates during the "extended support" phase (usually the next five years) to sign up for a paid hot-fix support program to get the updates, which keep a computer's clock and calendar up-to-date with any time zone changes.

CNET News

Under its new plan, products that enter extended support after January 1 will now get free daylight saving and time zone updates twice a year, tied to the Northern hemisphere's fall and winter. The free updates will be provided via Microsoft's Web site and through Windows Update.

Microsoft said that customers who need time zone updates outside of those general distribution times will still need to enroll in the paid hot-fix program.

The company said it is making the change based on customer requests. Changes to daylight saving time have proved tricky for businesses to handle in recent years, as governments have made tweaks to when the clocks change.

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