New Time Zones are Uncommon, but Not Unheard Of

Over the last few days I saw some reactions to the post in the post to Microsoft’s Daylight Saving Time & Time Zone Blog noting that Microsoft may accommodate North Korea’s new time zone. As highlighted, the Windows team is currently investigating the creation of a new time zone to address this change, and the update as well as the change details will be available later this month or the beginning of September. This post was in response to the widely reported announcement by the Korean Central News Agency, indicating that the DPRK will move to a time zone of its own time zone on August 15. The new time zone will have an offset of UTC +08:30, putting North Korea 30 minutes behind South Korea.

As some in the press have noted, such changes are uncommon in general, but not necessarily for Microsoft. We’ve seen this happen in the past, as countries moved their time zone in a similar fashion. (I received an informative article on “Why nations switch time zones” from a friend, which includes look at other past changes as well as this change. )

I recall working in the Windows group as we tracked the move to implement a new time zone in Venezuela back in December of 2007. We first had information on the change a few months prior to the move, and then followed the machinations as the country attempted to determine the exact date of the change. As countries and sovereign nations implement new time zones that don’t correspond to an existing time zone, we have the option of adding a new one to our products and services.

Even if you didn’t live in Venezuela, there were many reasons for ensuring your devices reflected the time zone update. As we called out during the change in Russia’s daylight saving time in 2011, while such changes directly affects those living in the country, there can be global ramifications on trade, commerce, travel, communications and other factors. If you wanted to know the correct time in a country, ensuring your device is up to date and accurate is essential. The same is true for other places, given that many customers around the world use Windows-based products and may have a need for knowing the correct time in another location.

Most applications and services reference the underlying Windows operating system for their date and time related rules, with some exceptions. As the team in Windows and our Trustworthy Computing group monitor the DST and TZ changes around the world, they outline various software updates to select Microsoft products (including various releases of the Microsoft Windows operating systems, Microsoft Office and other applications) for various products and services in support.