What will happen in 2155?

By Charles Miller

This week being the start of a new year is a good time to look at some upcoming events in the computer world. For many technical support people this year is going to be, as was termed by the inimitable Yogi Berra, déjà vu all over again. Fifteen years ago a subject that was headline news almost daily was Y2K. For those of you who do not remember, that was the end-of-the-millennium scare that all our computer-based technology might stop working at midnight on December 31, 1999. 2014 figures to be almost as much of a technical challenge as Y2K all because of the continuing popularity of an old discontinued version of Microsoft Windows.

Not long after its debut on August 24, 2001, Microsoft Windows XP became the world’s most popular personal computer Operating System and continued to be so even after it was discontinued in 2008. Now, almost six years later Windows XP is still holding tenaciously to about a third of the Operating System user base, and therein is the problem. This year Microsoft will discontinue support for this venerable product and at some point after that all these old XP computers will need to be upgraded or replaced.

If you are one of the large number of users who owns a decade-old Windows PC, then you really should plan on replacing or upgrading it this year. Here are some dates to circle on your calendar:

April 8, 2014. Microsoft ends support for Windows XP, so after that date it will become increasingly difficult to continue using this version. That date is far enough off that everyone affected should have time to make the necessary arrangements, but just in case anyone reading this believes that this is insufficient notice, I will run down the list of some other looming deadlines:

December 31, 2019. If you are still using Microsoft Excel 95 five years from now, it quits working at midnight tonight.

January 1, 2020. The next day many 20th century Mac computers will no longer be able to set the correct date. This will render most of the online functions of these computers inoperable.

December 31, 2025. Present-day versions of Intuit’s Quicken and QuickBooks accounting programs run out of dates and crash. Users should upgrade to a newer version in this coming decade.

January 1, 2028. Back in 1999 a lot of Y2K fixes depended on the fact that the day/date calendar cycle repeats every 28 years. Today is the day that those remedies for Y2K will expire.

September 30, 2034. The time function in computers running some versions of UNIX will go haywire, mostly on really old servers.

February 6, 2036. at exactly 6:28:16am GMT is a certain number of seconds counting from January 1, 1900 and any programs that keep track of time by up counting seconds will run out of space to record new dates.

December 31, 2078. Several versions of Microsoft Excel coded with space for recording a maximum of only 65,380 days run out of life.

January 1, 2100. The BIOS chips on motherboards of most current personal computers run out of dates. Also, many of the Y2K fixes put in place 100 years ago will fail on this date.

February 29, 2100. There is no such date! You might remember that the year 2000 was a leap year, but the year 2100 will not be. For the first time since 1896 there will be seven consecutive years without a February 29th on the calendar. Software coded using the “4-year rule” will choke.

I could go on to warn everyone what will break down on December 31, 2107 and what happens in 2140 and 2155, but there is plenty of time for me to get the word out about those 22nd century technology-related deadlines in a later column. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo 2014!

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044-415-101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.


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