Brace yourselves... it's that time again.

That's right: it's the start of Daylight Saving Time in much of the US and Canada, as noted in more than 2,200 news articles today.

"Huh?  It's not for a couple of more weeks," one person said yesterday.

"Nope, it's this weekend... we updated our products last year to account for the change," I heard another manager say. (Nice to hear that the message got out. ;)

This year, DST in much of the US and Canada begins on March 9, several weeks earlier than in years prior to 2007. As you may recall, last year the US and Canada "sprang forward" a few weeks earlier than in past years in accordance with the US Department of Energy's Energy Policy Act of 2005 that was passed into law. DST will end later than usual, on the first Sunday of November (in 2008, November 2); more details on the new DST start and end times can be found here). This results in a new DST period that is approximately three to four weeks longer than in previous years.

So what should you do to make sure that your computers are ready for the change?  If you use Microsoft Update on your PC at home, chances are you're already covered.  The December Cumulative 2008 Daylight Saving Time and Time Zone Update for Windows should already be installed on your PC.  If you're not sure, visit Microsoft Windows Update to check your PC and install important updates.  At work, if an IT Pro (aka 'hero') manages your network, chances are good that the needed updates have already been installed on your computers and devices automagically.

If you manage servers and a host of Microsoft software, visit http://www.microsoft.com/time for more details.  And visit the support web sites of any other software companies to see if you need to apply any updates - it's not just Microsoft software that may require updates.  Keep in mind that it's not just the US and Canada that made changes to DST and time zones: we have an upcoming change in Australia and others noted on the DST and Time Zone Hot Topics page.

In Australia, there are changes to Eastern & Central zones. Australia Eastern (New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania) and Central (South Australia) time zones will extend daylight saving and also harmonize start and end times commencing April 2008. From April 2008, daylight saving will end on the first Sunday in April and recommence on the first Sunday in October in all states.

For a summary of the status of product updates, we recommend that customers review the information on the Australia Eastern & Central 2008 Daylight Saving Changes page.  As noted there, the official Australian Government Time web site is a resource to prepare and educate end users and businesses. 

 In most cases, customer will find that these changes have been addressed when the latest cumulative time zone update for Microsoft Windows operating systems was applied (released December, 2007, as noted at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/942763).  Some of the updates are not specific to the Australia Eastern and Central changes and can be applied immediately; other products (for example Office Groove) require manual adjustment after application of the time zone update to the host Windows operating system.

And remember: time is a precious thing. Never waste it.

Of interest, these top news articles for daylight saving time...

[update 2:40PM] And thanks to Mary Jo for mentioning this post on her blog to increase awareness.

Tags: Microsoft, Daylight Saving Time, Daylight Savings Time, DST. 3,530,000 (down a million items); 6,950,000; 649,000+