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Microsoft trying to fix Hotmail problems
SEATTLE (The Associated Press) -- Microsoft Corp. said Friday that a "significant portion" of people who use the company's Hotmail e-mail system and other Internet-based products had trouble accessing the services for several hours.
The company said it was an internal problem rather than an attack on its system and that it had service restored by 5:15 p.m. PST.
The problem began about 8:30 a.m.
In addition to Hotmail, the popular Web-based e-mail service, Microsoft said people were having trouble accessing products such as company's MSN Messenger instant messaging program.
Malina Bragg, a spokeswoman with Microsoft's Waggener Edstrom public relations firm, said in an e-mail that the company did not know how many people were having trouble but that "it appears to affect a significant portion of our customers."
Bragg said problem appeared to be affecting people who were trying to log on to the system. Those that were able to get on the system did not appear to be having problems sending and receiving e-mail, she said.
Outage Hits Hotmail, MSN Messenger
'Internal issue' hampers logons for more than six hours Friday, Microsoft confirms.
Internal technical problems at Microsoft closed down access for many MSN Messenger and Hotmail users, as well as some MSN Internet Access customers, for about eight hours Friday.
Microsoft started receiving reports or problems with its instant messaging, Web based e-mail and dial-up Internet services at about 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time Friday, a company spokesperson says. The issue was identified at around 3 p.m. and solved an hour and a half later, she adds.
"The outage was pretty significant in terms of the number of customers it affected, but by now the services should be up and running for everybody," the Microsoft spokesperson confirmed late on Friday afternoon.
Microsoft is not releasing details of the cause of the outage.
"It was a completely internal issue," the spokesperson says. The problem had nothing to do with hackers or the security patch for MSN Messenger that Microsoft released earlier this week, she adds.
Microsoft did not disclose how many customers were unable to connect to those services in the interim.
Service complaints came mostly from the U.S. and Canada, but users outside of North America may also have been affected, the spokesperson says. Users who were already connected to the services were for the most part able to continue using them, the issue primarily affected new log-ons, she says.
MSN Messenger, Hotmail on the fritz
Microsoft is investigating customer complaints that both MSN Messenger and Hotmail have been intermittently inaccessible since Friday morning, a representative said.
Hotmail users complained to CNET News.com that the service could not be accessed several times during the day on Friday. Microsoft's instant-messaging application, MSN Messenger, also had connectivity problems.
"This morning, MSN customers began experiencing issues accessing various services, such as Messenger (and) Hotmail," a Microsoft representative said. "Microsoft is currently determining the cause and is taking appropriate steps to remedy the situation as quickly as possible."
The Hotmail Web site and other Passport-powered sites could only be successfully accessed 50 percent of the time, according to Internet performance measurement service Keynote Systems. Usually, the sites can be accessed 100 percent of the time.
Although Microsoft did not finger Passport as the cause of the issues, a hiccup in the affected services could be explained by problems in the company's Internet identity service, said Roopak Patel, senior analyst at Keynote.
"If there is an issue, it is causing the same effects across different (Microsoft) domains," Patel said, adding, "It's not impacting the Internet as a whole."
Microsoft's identity service has been stable in recent history, but Passport has had its share of troubles.
Almost a year ago, a flaw in the system could have allowed an attacker to access customer information using only the victim's e-mail address. Software flaws in the system's security also left consumers' financial data vulnerable, forcing Microsoft to shut down its Wallet service to protect people from having their data stolen.
Microsoft does not believe that the current issue could affect customer data, the representative said.