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More fixes for Windows 98 Y2K bugs

Microsoft will post updates for the glitches, which affect how the operating system reads and identifies some dates.

Microsoft is releasing three more fixes for Year 2000 problems with the Windows 98 operating system.

These glitches affect how the operating system reads and identifies some dates, but the company says that most users will not notice the errors. Microsoft had already released a patch for Windows 98 Y2K bugs discovered last December.

The Y2K bug can cause computers to read the year 2000 as 1900, because most older computers were programmed to read a two-digit year date. The problem could cause machines or networks to either crash or transmit bad information, which has prompted all sorts of speculation on what will happen if computer systems begin to crash on January 1, 2000.

However, Microsoft emphasizes that its Windows 98 Y2K issues will "pose no risk of data loss or damage to hardware or software," according to a company statement.

The problems affect the Microsoft Automation library, which interprets two-digit years past 2029 as being in the 20th century, regardless of how the user has set the computer's date settings, and the Windows 98 international date format, which also handles two-digit years and will not accept 00 for the year 2000, Microsoft said. Finally, the patch fixes some errors specific to international versions of Windows 98.

Microsoft is providing additional information on its Year 2000 Resource Center site.

The fixes will be available in the next couple of weeks on the Windows Update Web site for registered Windows 98 users, and will be included in the upcoming Windows 98, Second Edition and the company's Year 2000 CD-ROM.

Windows 98 has already suffered from a number of bizarre date-related bugs. A few weeks after its release, Microsoft confirmed that a Windows 98 computer's calendar will be thrown off by a couple of days if the computer is rebooted precisely as the date is changing.

In addition, the company confirmed last month an obscure bug will crash some Windows-based computers after 49.7 days. It is unclear whether the new Y2K patch or Windows 98, Second Edition will address these issues.