Short Date Format
Home Up Statistics Games Silver Bullets Short Date Format COTS Rollover WebWise Pulled


There has been much said of the short date format and whether or not it is connected to the Year 2000 problem.

Microsoft has correctly stated that the compliance of Windows itself is not effected by the short date format.  However, some interpret Microsoft's statement to mean that the setting of the short date format is unrelated to the Year 2000 problem.  In our opinion, this is not true because many manufacturers of third party software have explicitly or implicitly stated that their products depends on the the setting of the short date format.

In general, the short date format should be set to a four digit year with a few notable exceptions (based upon software installed and used on the individual PC).  Using a four digit year has the following advantages:

It makes data entered unambiguous to the end user how the computer is interpreting their entered data.  For example, with the short date format set to a two digit year, one can often not be sure if a date of "12/31/40" refers to a date in 1940 or 2040.  With the date format set to a four digit year, it is obvious to the user.
Some software determines the format it will exchange data with other applications depending upon the short date format.  This dependence is not always documented in the manufacturer's Y2K statements.  When in doubt, one would generally want applications to exchange data using a four digit year format.

There are several products that require setting the short date format to a four digit year.  The reasons include:

Products which determine how their dates are stored based upon the short date setting. 
Products which will have their input default to the range 1900-1999 if it is set to a two digit year setting (the date may or may not be able to be entered as four digits with a short date setting of two digit years).
Products which automatically modify the current Windows short date format to permit it to run
Products with incorrect date displays
Unspecified reasons

Some products explicitly instruct the user to leave the short date setting setting at a two digit years for the following reasons:

Products which were designed with inadequate space in reports for a four digit year
Products which have hard coded interpretations of date formats

Please send any additions, corrections or broken link notifications to our webmaster.

The following require a 4-digit short date format

The following products determine how their dates are stored by the setting of the short date format:

Gryphon: case & practice management software for lawyers.  The company's Y2K statement says it is a problem which will be fixed in the next release, but until then set the short date format to a four digit year.
Pendragon Software Corp: Forms 1.x (problem was fixed in later releases).

The following products will modify the Windows short date format for you automatically to a four digit year to permit the application to run

Atlas Business Solutions VSS PRO 4.0 and Staff Files 2.0
One link on the WWW presents PowerBuilder code for automatically modifying the short date format.  A freeware utility for also performing this task is MSA Y2K Date Tool.

The following products state that entering a date with a short date set to a two digit year will result in the date being interpreted as being between 1900 and 1999:

Banxia Software Ltd: Frontier Analyst.  Assumes that any two digit years imported will have the current century as the century in the data.
Imaging Technology Corp: Identifier Software.  (Access 2.0 runtime)
LandMark - software for land (farmers).
Micro Estimating Systems, Inc: products Machine Shop Estimating, Lay Out Pro & FabPlan.
Studio 848 Inc: Bill Power
Veritas (was Seagate): Backup Exec NT version 6.11 has this problem only when a job was scheduled first for execution after 1999 but was entered in 1999.
Weston & Muir: All DOS based products

The following products state that the short date setting to a four-digit year is required for some versions of their products:

Apple:Claris Works
Atlas Business Solutions: VSS PRO and Staff Files
Blueridge Technologies: OPTIX Internet document management system
Cardax: all card key entry systems manufactured by Cardax
CiTechnologies Pty Ltd: Safeguard
Corel: WordPerfect Suite & Office Professional for Windows 3.1
Dataview Solutions: MapInfo
Document Control Solutions: ImageTrax® Express
EA Technology: INMEX Field Maintenance Tool (Access 2.0 dependency).  ProMEX, CTD
Electronic Systems USA: UNITY (Access 2.0 dependency)
Gagemaker: recommend setting the short date format to four digit year years so that inaccurate date information is not entered or displayed
Insight Software Solutions, Inc: Smart Address
Intouch Technology: SkiPass, SkatePass ticketing, Sales-Point retail systems.  Their products "work as intended if the short date format in the international settings of Windows is set to a four-digit year".  They have now changed their current programming practice to ignore the short date setting.
Kronos: TKC for Windows
Lotus: Approach
Microsoft: Visual Basic 6 may have a problem sending dates to Oracle without either a patch or setting the short date format to four digits
PlanIt Software Ltd: Staff Appraiser.   This product does not recognize February 29, 2000 as a valid date unless the short date format is changed to a four digit year.
Trafficware: Synchro.

The following product will have an incorrect date display if the short date is set to a two-digit year.  Dates in the next century will be displayed with three digits (e.g. February 3, 2000 will be displayed 02/03/100 if the short date format is set to mm/dd/yy).

Dionex Software: PeakNet version 4.30 chromatography software.
RFF Electronics: RFFlow versions 3.00-3.02 flowcharting software. 

The following require a 2-digit short date format

The following products instruct you to leave the short date setting set to a two digit year or have other difficulties with a four digit year setting:

Americas Software Corp: ASSIST.   The short date format is required to be in the format M/dd/yy for importing of transactions to work.
ChartSmart 2000: The short date format must be set to mm/dd/yy.
Chrompack International: CP-SCANVIEW 4.00.  States that this version of this product can only have its short date format begin with month or day, but not year.
Clark Systems Corp: MEMOR™, DEVOR™, REGI™.  The manufacturer instructs you to enter all dates with 4-digit years, but leave the display set at 2-digits or some reports & screens will not have enough room to print the 4 digits.  If you just enter a two digit year, it will assume the date is in the range 1900-1999.
Inline Internet Systems, Inc: iSPI 2.2
Medical Economics Company: PDR Electronic Library
Microsoft: Schedule + versions 7.0, 7.0a and 7.5.  If the short date field is set to a four digit year and the user types a two digit year, the date is interpreted as being between 1900-1999.  A patch is available to fix the problem.
Risk Management Technologies: Chem Alert I.  At one time this product was believed compliant by the manufacturer if the short date format was set to a two digit year.  However, they have since learned that other third party products were not compliant in that configuration, so only Chem Alert II is compliant.
University of South Australia: BLOOD.  This is left in the list to illustrate a problem: incompatible settings.   This academic program was written in Visual Basic 3 and requires a short date setting of "dd/mm/yy".  However, Visual Basic 3 assumes all two digit years are between 1900 and 1999.
Veritas (was Seagate): Backup Exec for Netware.  Version 7.11 of this product produces a GPF when the short date format is set to a four digit year.  This problem was repaired in a subsequent release.

Other interesting links related to this topic

A Delphi oriented discussion including links to source code to modify the short date format.

Microsoft's statement that the short date format is a display only setting, not related to the compliance of Windows.  It was because of this statement that  this page became necessary.  Several companies took this statement to indicate that the short date format was unrelated to any products Y2K compliance.

University of California, Berkeley has a very broad discussion on the topic.

     Visit some of our other informative pages

Be sure to visit some of our other informative pages including:

How to Save Time in Y2K Testing seminar presentation slides
How to disprove a silver bullet using a simple C program
Links to all tools available for Y2K spreadsheet remediation from every manufacturer
And finally, our own unique tools

New Y2K Rollover proactive solution offered... Know changes manufacturers post to websites... Use WebCompare for a Proactive Y2K Rollover Weekend... Avoid replicating Y2K errors on your system...

Receive email when this page changes

Powered by NetMind
Click Here