Windows Server may shut down if system time is wrong

I was testing some Reporting Services reports, but the test data was fairly old and some datasets were linked to the date, so I wasn’t getting proper results.

Instead of modifying the test data or the queries, the easy solution was to disable time synchronization and change the system time to 3 years in the past.

 

But changing the system time lead to an interesting problem:

Suddenly the server shut down automatically with no warning.

No chance was given to save open documents or to cancel shutdown.

 

I started up the virtual machine again and noticed that the system time had been reset.

Found this explanation for the behavior in Event Viewer:

Log Name:      System
Source:        User32
Date:          27-09-2013 11:14:19
Event ID:      1074
Task Category: None
Level:         Information
Keywords:      Classic
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:      TestServer
Description:
The process C:\Windows\system32\wlms\wlms.exe (TESTSERVER) has initiated the shutdown of computer TESTSERVER on behalf of user NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM for the following reason: Other (Planned)
Reason Code: 0x80000000
Shutdown Type: shutdown
Comment: The license period for this installation of Windows has expired. The operating system is shutting down.

 

Be aware that Windows was activated and continued to be activated after it was restarted.

This happened with Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, but I suspect it’s an issue with other versions and editions.

Conclusion

Apparently Windows doesn’t tolerate running with a wrong system time, even for testing purposes.

Fortunately wlms.exe is only present on evaluation versions of Windows, so this particular issue should never occur on production systems.

In any case, a correct system time is always desired for a number of things like logging dates, scheduling, synchronization, certificate validation and so on.