[Note: please see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mthree/archive/2011/08/11/dst-081111.aspx for the released Windows Update for August 2011...]

 

Remember when I wondered out loud about Russia abolishing daylight saving time?

Well, I do. We've been following this quite closely at Microsoft, and have seen the news updates.  I have really improved my understanding of the Cyrillic alphabet in the last few months.

From the “more detail than you want to know department”: this Bill went through what’s called the first reading with their legislature (the State Duma) this past week (April 19) and will likely be signed into law within the next 14-20 days, and effective 60 days after it’s official publication. But our engineering and services teams are already anticipating this change.

As we understand it, Russia will not “fall back” and revert to the established Russian Standard time zones this fall. Instead, the country will remain on perpetual “Summer Time”. From a technical standpoint, this can be a challenging way to handle a permanent transition away from DST. This will be known, I think, as “Decree time” but effectively will be Russia's new standard time.

We also know that other countries – including Ukraine and Belarus – may follow Russia’s lead in their move to abolish DST. I expect that as Russia enacts this Bill into law we will see other countries in the region follow suit.

[Revised 8/11/2011] Russia has signed this into law, and we've released KB article 2570791 for the August 2011 cumulative time zone update for Windows operating systems. See this post for more details.]

A few interesting facts on DST:

As you may know, daylight saving time was originally proposed and adopted as a response to energy conservation early in the 20th century. It was repealed after World War I in 1919, and then reinstated by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 in the U.S.

Originally, a report by the California Energy Commission in 2001 (available here) concluded that both Daylight Saving Time would probably save marginal amounts of electricity. At the time, California considered adopting DST throughout the year to address the electricity problems in the state in 2000. For the proposed Summer Double DST, the study suggested that the state would “save hundreds of millions of dollars because it would shift electricity use to low demand (cheaper) morning hours and decrease electricity use during higher demand hours.”

The Energy Commission has also published a report titled “The Effect of Early Daylight Saving Time on California Electricity Consumption” in May, 2007. The report concluded that DST had little or no effect on energy consumption in California. A more recent study from the University of Santa Barbara (available at http://www.nber.org/papers/w14429) concluded that there is little evidence that DST actually saves energy, and in the terms of the study, may actually increase residential electricity demand. The study focused on residential electricity demand over a three year period, and concluded that energy consumption actually increased approximately 1 percent during DST, and as much as 2 to 4 percent in the fall. The authors also hypothesize that the impact of the energy increase during DST would likely be higher in other parts of the U.S.

Health concerns also play a role, as recent studies showed an increase in heart attacks, sleep disorders and other problems associated with time changes. As I noted in this article, the Russian government originally considered abolishing daylight saving time in the country as there are serious negative impacts on people’s health, calling out how the time changes attributed to up to 70,000 premature deaths a year in Russia alone. They cited "medical emergency calls increasing by 12% in the first two weeks after each change, suicide rate jumping 66%, accident rate rising by 29%, heart attack rates - by 75%." This research was also supported by a Swedish study referenced here.

So, that's all nice, but what's Microsoft doing about this change?

We're working hard at Microsoft on this change at many different levels.  As past readers of this blog will know, most applications and services reference the underlying Windows OS for their TZ and DST rules, with some exceptions. This change in Russia has the potential for worldwide impacts on time references for multinational customers. Updates will be important not only for users in Russia but for connected systems around the world.

As such, our Windows team that follows DST and TZ changes globally will provide guidance to all product and services teams on the changes as the measure is formalized and put into law. We will announce more details on our support and updates to our products and services in the upcoming weeks and ensure that the changes are represented into our regularly scheduled Windows OS updates for DST and time zones.

[Added 05312011]  At this time, in preparations for the changes to the UTC offsets and elimination of DST in Russia, we plan to include the changes for the Windows Daylight Saving Time Cumulative Update, scheduled to be published in August, 2011. We will also include a roll-up of DST hotfix changes released during 2011, including those for Fiji, Samoa, Turkey, Chile, Egypt, Morocco and Newfoundland. See this post for more details. While Microsoft’s Services infrastructure will be updated to reflect these DST changes, it's important that your computers -- both clients and servers that connect to and interact with these services -- should have the Windows DST updates applied in order to ensure data integrity.

We'll also provide guidance and updates to help support the new changes in Russia run as smoothly as possible on our corporate site on DST at http://www.microsoft.com/time, with worldwide guidance and details on this important change. This site will provide the information needed by our customers and partners to react and issue updates to their products and services to accommodate this change. Our groups around the world will promote these changes locally, similar to the work that Microsoft New Zealand provided on http://www.microsoft.co.nz/timezone, supported and promoted by the efforts of the government here. For the change in Russia, we provide specific details and guidance in country at http://support.microsoft.com/gp/cp_dst/ru.

Which reminds me: we are also communicating our recommendations to help achieve more seamless transitions to new DST and time zone policies. (More information is also available at http://support.microsoft.com/gp/dst_ms_response.)

That's a lot of work. Так давайте работать! ;)

Tags: Microsoft, Daylight Saving Time, Daylight Savings Time, RSS, DST, Russia

Also available via http://bit.ly/fiyMlX

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious Bookmark and Share