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Readers react to 49.7-day Windows glitch

An obscure bug can cause Windows to crash after 49.7 days, but some jaded users say they would be grateful if it took that long.

A bizarre and probably obscure bug will crash some Windows computers after about a month and a half of use. But some jaded Windows users say they would be grateful if their systems could stay up that long.

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. (See previous story.)

The news prompted a flurry of emails to News.com. Many users were amused to learn about the problem. "I suspect many computer users do not experience this bug, because both the Windows 95 and 98 operating systems crash much more often (for other stability reasons) than every 49.7 days," wrote one reader, who summed up the feelings of many.

"If a Windows machine could actually run for 49.7 days without a crash, it'd be a miracle," chimed in another Windows user.

Others were merely curious: "Are there any reported cases of Windows staying up for 49.7 days?" asked another reader.

"Honestly, do you know of anyone who has managed to keep Win95 up and running for 49.7 days? Or even 29.7 days?" another reader wrote. "I'd say the average time between reboots for any Win95 box would be more along the lines of once a day (or, at a pinch, once every two days). I must admit though, that when I saw this article, I laughed so hard that I ended up spilling my tea all over myself."

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

Microsoft warned users thusly: "After exactly 49.7 days of continuous operation, your Windows 95-based computer may stop responding." 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.