September 3, 2010 29 Comments
Quick background information to bring you up to speed: You can add national holidays for your country to your Outlook calendar so they remind you not to go to work that day. Unfortunately Microsoft sometimes get the details wrong for one or two places, but in the case of Outlook 2010 at least 23 countries have incorrect dates for some of their holidays.
In this article I will describe some of the errors, list corrected dates and provide links to files I have prepared with the fixes already in to save you some typing. I have also posted a separate article about adding and removing holidays from your Outlook calendar, rather than making this one even longer with a great big discussion about the mechanics of doing this.
When you add holidays to Outlook, they are read in from a specially formatted text file, formerly outlook.txt, now (since 2002?) renamed to outlook.hol but essentially the same thing. This contains sections for various countries and a couple of religions, so that you can easily choose the ones you are interested in. This approach has a couple of limitations but some upsides too:
- each holiday is specified as a single date, so even things which have on obvious recurrence pattern must be included several times for different years, which means only a limited number are included in the interests of file size
- it is hugely subject to human error, as we will see
- when there are errors, at least you can easily fix them by editing the file or replacing it with one someone else has done (like me)
- you can add extra sections for “countries” you want to include, such as for a special interest group, or additional company holidays (such as winter shutdown periods)
Outlook 2010 errors
The version of the outlook.hol file which shipped with Outlook 2010 final version (RTM) has some serious flaws in it, affecting at least 23 countries as far as I can see (basically most of Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand), and likely many others I have not been able to identify. As I mentioned above, because of the way this file is used, this is relatively easy to fix as it is not an actual bug in the program, but is still very annoying, especially for anybody that has already imported the incorrect holidays.