Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Outlook invite time is different in Hotmail or Windows Live

I had a user ask why someone responded to their meeting request asking why the time was so different and had to do some research. My user uses Outlook, and was sending the request to a Hotmail user. The Hotmail user was seeing something similar to this:

From: Offline This Guy (
Sent: Wed 6/03/09 3:08 PM
When: Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 9:00PM to 9:30PM
Location: Test site

When: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 4:00 PM-4:30 PM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).

Where: Test site

Note: The GMT offset above does not reflect daylight saving time adjustments.

Notice that there is a When and Location field in the subject displayed in Hotmail, and then there is a When and Where within the body of the message. The body shows the correct time, while the subject section has a time that is 5 hours later than when the meeting is meant to happen. After thinking about this I believe I figured out the answer.

When the appointment is sent to Hotmail, it must use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) rather than your current time zone setting. Also, since I'm currently located in a place that is in Daylight Savings Time (DST), our time zone is one hour different than it normally would be. I'm in the Central time zone, which is 6 hours earlier than GMT normally, and 5 hours different currently thanks to DST, which would mean a meeting I schedule at 4pm would appear as 9pm in GMT.

I thought this same issue affected Gmail appointments that originate from Outlook too, but after testing it the correct time did seem to be showing in my Gmail account. I'm not sure of any workaround, but submitted this information to Hotmail to see if it's a known issue (support ticket #1103641366). At least this should explain why it's happening for any of you who may have noticed but couldn't quite nail it down.

UPDATE 6/10/2009: This issue is still pending, but I've been working with Windows Live Support to try to solve it. The problem is that I've received emails from 4-5 representatives and have had to practically start over with each of them. The last was them asking for the ok to access my account, which I believe they did today, so I'm hoping to have some type of resolution, or at least acknowledgement soon. If you're having the same problem leave a comment so I can use it to help prove that it's not limited just to my accounts, because that's what they've tried hinting at.

UPDATE 7/2/2009: After many, many emails back and forth with Windows Live support, with them having me repeat the same troubleshooting steps over and over so they could try to blame my time zone settings, I finally received this message:

We receive a feedback from our product team with regards to your issue on time zone. They mentioned that it is by design that the time zone in the event details came from the time zone of the exchange server. While the time zone in the calendar view appears correctly. Windows Live Calendar shows the event in the event time zone.

Apparently that means that they couldn't figure out how to program Windows Live Mail to change the time zone to match that of the Windows Live Calendar settings. Gmail does it, so why doesn't Windows Live? Looks like it is because they don't want to. All appointments are going to be sent out in GMT in order to make sure there is some type of consistent time zone setting. That way the receiving end can look at the time, then reconfigure for their specific time zone settings since everything is based off of GMT anyway. Regardless, it looks like this one was put to bed with a result of Windows Live Mail acknowledging the problem, but then stating it's functioning exactly as designed.

One sidenote to anyone who happens to read this far and is involved in tech support in one way or another. READ an entire question before starting to answer. Sometimes a person just may be smarter than you think, and may have tried their own troubleshooting related to the problem. That can save a lot of time, but only if you bother to read it. I run into this all too often when I am trying to get questions answered by tech support at various places. I know there are a lot of people who don't have a clue out there because I'm in tech support myself, but assuming everyone is clueless makes it very frustrating for those who know what is going on and actually have a legitimate issue with whatever you are supporting.


Great said...

I'm in Tech support, and someone just pointed out that his appointments in outlook (exchange) were coming in with the correct time and date in the subject, but when accepting and outlook moving it to his calendar, the appointment went to an hour later. We tried several ways to fix it, including changing the time zone and the daylight savings time but it still came up with the note: "Note: The GMT offset above does not reflect daylight saving time adjustments." The only way he wanted to fix it, was to set his clock an hour earlier, and then his appointments started to work at the "supposed" to be time. he just has to remember that his time in windows is one hour earlier than normal. (I hope he does not leave an hour later today) This is definitely NOT an answer, but it is annoying.

rslygh said...

That's pretty good. At least he didn't demand that you go through and fix each of his appointments. I have another article specific to Outlook if you didn't run across it. Here's a link: If you're using Outlook 2007 there's a built-in tool for changing the time-zone on all appointments.