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MS Hotmail Offline For Hours 443

chalker writes "According to CNN, and others, the Hotmail online e-mail service, operated by Microsoft, was down for most of the working day on Friday, affecting 'a significant portion of MS customers.' People are also having trouble accessing products such as the MSN Messenger instant messaging program. The company said it was an internal problem rather than an attack on its system and that it hoped to have service restored by 5:30 p.m. PST. As of 8:15 PM EST, Hotmail appears to be online again."
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MS Hotmail Offline For Hours

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  • by Burianski11 ( 554142 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:42AM (#8560113)
    I was getting a "Service Unavailable" but couldn't figure out if it was my flaky connection or Microsoft's flaky software. Guess now I know.
  • by caston ( 711568 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:42AM (#8560114)
    they must be running Exchange.

  • Dammit (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frogbert ( 589961 ) < minus bsd> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:43AM (#8560115)
    And here my girlfriend is blaming that stupid mozilla program. Try explaing that its Microsofts fault to someone who thinks that MS is infallable.
    • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd@inebra s k a . c om> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:50AM (#8560141) Homepage Journal
      You think that's bad? Try working at an isp and have people yelling at you and blaming you for breaking hotmail ;).

      ahh the joys of the internet.
      • Re:Dammit (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well, they can't be right all the time.
      • Yeah, I'll say... (Score:3, Informative)

        by i1984 ( 530580 )
        ...those people should stick with their American Online CD disks for downloading on the interweb!

        Fortunately I escaped from supporting the end-user general public several years ago, but it was many years earlier that Hotmail stopped working for me. As I recall, it was shortly after Hotmail was purchased by MS that my entire mail quota could be filled with spam in mere days, and it was then that the system got so sluggish and unreliable that it was never a surprise when I couldn't use it. (Microsoft is real
      • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Funny)

        by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @07:36AM (#8560669) Homepage
        So it was you! I missed several important messages from a business associate in Nigera and others for expanding my .. opportunities. Important security update from Microsoft were lost! I'll sue!!!

        Gads, I've had my hotmail account since before Microsoft bought them. It makes a useful account to hand out on Usenet posts, Slashdot or on web pages--I can quickly give any emailer a real address for contact--mainly it's a spamtrap. But I would never ever depend on it for email or cry if it died.

    • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Funny)

      by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @06:11AM (#8560481) Homepage Journal
      I hope she's good in bed cause I'd never date someone that clueless unless she could make my toes curl, my eyes roll into the back of my head, and jets of steam shoot out of both ears.

  • by illuminata ( 668963 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:44AM (#8560121) Journal
    That downtime really blew. I couldn't read my spam.

    Don't let it happen again, Microsoft.
    • Its okay now. You can go back to reading about ways to enlarge your penis and how to get money from that kind Nigerian prince! :)
    • All I know is, if my bank, my credit cards, or any of the other reliable online services that I use were as flaky as Hotmail (or any other Microsoft owned and operated Internet service) I'd simply use an alternative, and encourage my friends to as well. Microsoft has shown, time and time again, that it really isn't competent to run a major online operation. That's why I don't use Passport, Hotmail, Messenger, indeed any Microsoft service (other than Windows Update) convenient as they might be at times.
  • by Cliffy03 ( 663924 ) <> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:44AM (#8560123)
    I thought they had blocked other programs again. Trillian and Gaim couldn't connect, but I installed MSN 6.1 and got right back on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:45AM (#8560125)
    God, how fucking petty is slashdot getting???

    Sure, hotmail was down, boo-hoo. It's a free email service. Deal with it.

    Why is slashdot determined to report every single trivial detail when it comes to Microsoft? Try to stick with the big stories, please, not "Bill Gates forgets to lift toilet seat!" or "Steve Ballmer takes up two parking spaces in Microsoft parking lot!"
    • by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:52AM (#8560147) Homepage Journal
      It's a free email service.

      I'm sure RMS [] would disagree with you.
    • by xxx_Birdman_xxx ( 676056 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:54AM (#8560158)
      It might seem petty, but the reality is that there is a huge number of people that use hotmail on a regular basis.. this kind of downage affects a lot of people.

      What is interesting is how:
      - Microsoft responds, their press releases etc.
      - Possible reasons for failure
      - What others can learn from these kind of failures, to prevent them happening.
      - That such a large system that must deal with a massive number of requests has completely gone down instead of the service degrading due to servers failing, etc..

      Lighten up a bit, i'm honestly suprised it would go down for a significant amount of time.
      • by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:18AM (#8560233)
        An outage like this is not caused by a server failure but a misconfiguration. If it were bad hardware it would have been replaced, but that wouldn't have effected the whole cluster now would it? It also wouldn't have effected multiple services.

        Nope this problem is a central database problem, probably they tried to normalize the passport database, screw the pooch and had to roll everything back which is why it took so long.

        Or maybe they changed a permission and spend the whole day figuring out which one did it.
        • It's odd this outage lasted for so many hours. Hotmail is spread across multiple clusters at multiple geographic locations. Presumably, so is passport (which is what was br0xx0red). You would *think* MS would keep a complete backup of the last known passport config somewhere, like 1 day - 1 week, etc.

          In theory it should only take a matter of minutes to rollback the entire thing... and you would've thought they'd test it before deploying any changes.

          Sounds like somebody screwed the pooch on this one.
          • Being a cluster you would think they'd be upgrading them one server at a time, and they'd pretty quickly notice that the first server they tried to upgrade wasn't working. They could just take that one server out of the cluster until it was fixed.

            They proabably rolled a change out to all servers via SMS (not the text messaging protocol) and couldn't back it out :)
    • I seriously didn't know Hotmail was down. I had users asking me why it was down and I thought it may have been our connection. It's actually of some relief to know it was a technical problem on Microsoft's end... and I would not have found out about it if not for Slashdot...

      So it's not necessarily a "petty" thing as a "nice to know" thing... like all other slashdot stories... you are within your rights to refrain from reading the articles... no need to get grouchy if an article doesn't suit your taste. JUS
    • Uhhh no. You can also purchase a paid Hotmail account which gives you more storage room. If I pay for something , I don't expect downtime and I would expect MS to refund me for the portion of the day I couldn't access my email.

      The same goes for any service. Not just MS.

    • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:36AM (#8560266)
      It's free, but you can pay for it and get extra features, like a bigger mailbox.

      I'm (I'm not afraid of posting the address publicly, i think i'm on every mailing list I could be on anyway :). I run the account in 'whitelist' mode, so everything goes to the 'junk' folder. The only thing I get in my actual inbox is messages from hotmail telling me my mailbox is full :)

      So if I used the account seriously, rather than just as an address I can hand out if I need to hand one out, i'd need the extra space to hold all the spam that built up overnight.
    • by CryBaby ( 679336 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:39AM (#8560270)
      Allowing a system as large as Hotmail to completely fail is a MAJOR technical screw-up. It would be an interesting and embarrassing story no matter what OS it's running or who is in charge of it. Especially from a sysadmin point of view, it's a big deal. While it's obviously not important to you, it's anything but trivial.

      It makes me smile that it never went down when it was running on FreeBSD (shameless advocacy), although, to be fair, this incident was almost certainly due to an architectural weakness or network hardware failure and not an OS issue. I guess we'll never know...
    • by God! Awful 2 ( 631283 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:36AM (#8560408) Journal
      I seem to remember /. was down for a few hours last week... but somehow that story didn't make the front page.

    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @06:42AM (#8560548) Homepage Journal
      "Why is slashdot determined to report every single trivial detail when it comes to Microsoft?"

      They're trying to prove to the world that Microsoft is incompetent and evil. Those of us that use Windows must all be real morons who don't know shit, so they're hoping that by pointing out that Steve Ballmer double-parked we'll finally "see the light!" It wouldn't bother me except that it is generally assumed that my choice to use Windows 2000 wasn't voluntary. Slashbots think that Microsoft's monopoly put a Windows box on my desk at both home and at work. Yeah, there might be some truth to it. But seriously, if Windows was the big lump of shit that the people stuck in the past imagine it to be, I wouldn't be able to do 3D rendering on it.

      I agree with you that the petty "anything that can be spun against Microsoft" campaign is childish and obnoxious, but in this case, it was nice to find out why Hotmail was down. It's also nice to know when the next big worm breaks. Slashdot's helped me stay protected for years now.
      I just hope one day Slashdot will take Microsoft a little more seriously instead of the righetous BS that I need to be running Linux even though my work software isn't running on it.

      *sigh* This post isn't going to be visible for very long. Pity. At least it felt good to let it out.
    • by Bishop ( 4500 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @09:20AM (#8560907)
      Paid for services, such as MSDN subscriptions, were down as well. The real news is not that Hotmail was down, but that all Passport based services were having problems. MS has been trying hard to sell Passport as a "single sign on solution." This indicent does not help that marketing effort. This is not the first time that Passport has been out. In the past the passport domain expired and was rescued by a very nice person who registered the domain on a weekend, reinstating the service.
  • Date in the story? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Klerck ( 213193 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:47AM (#8560131) Homepage
    Perhaps a date in the story would have been more useful, since "As of 8:15 PM EST" is now just highly misleading. That 8:15PM EST was on Friday, March 12. This story is making it sound like it's been down for days, but in reality it was just a few short hours.

    This story isn't even relevant at this point.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2004 @06:46AM (#8560557)
      in reality it was just a few short hours.

      In reality most hours are the same length. Hotmail was down for a few standard-length hours.
      • by Odin's Raven ( 145278 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @09:08AM (#8560877)
        In reality most hours are the same length. Hotmail was down for a few standard-length hours.

        Anyone who's watched the "time remaining" during a Windows installation or a large file copy ("...but it's been 3 minutes remaining for the past half hour!") knows that Microsoft uses their own, superior standards for time measurement, rather than slavishly adhering to those obsolete SI units.

        Hotmail was only down for 10 MS-minutes.

  • Redundancy anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OriginalSpaceMan ( 695146 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:48AM (#8560132)
    That article didn't go into much detail. I don't know what kind of system MS uses to run Hotmail, MSN and other services, but where's the multiple location clustered redundant load balancing system? My only guess is that someone at MS really messed up their own DNS systems, which of course would take it all "down" (by name at least). Does anyone know what actually happened?
    • by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:58AM (#8560164)
      My first guess since it effected multiple services and not just hotmail that it was a database issue, they may have blocked permission on the cluster on accident. Such a central problem can't really be caused by faulty software, just faulty configuration.

      I think someone was implementing a new backup scheme and decided it would be a good idea to dismount the store, move it over to another cluster.

      Course it looks like if people managed to get on their service was fine, so maybe they screwed up some passwords. Time will tell this story
  • News for nerds? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:49AM (#8560137) Homepage
    The question is - how many nerds use, and why does this non-event warrant a front page article?
    • Re:News for nerds? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mstefanus ( 705346 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:54AM (#8560157)
      Actually many... Nerds use Hotmail for junk email accounts, like when they want to download something that needs registering first but don't want to receive the newsletter junks.
      • Re:News for nerds? (Score:5, Informative)

        by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:05AM (#8560189) Homepage
        For those things there is Mailinator [].

        Throwaway accounts should never be, out of all places, registered on They suspend your account if you don't login for 30 days. At least Yahoo!Mail or other free alternatives let you forget the account for few months and not get penalized for it.
        • Re:News for nerds? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tony-A ( 29931 )
          Throwaway accounts should never be, out of all places, registered on They suspend your account if you don't login for 30 days.

          Isn't that the idea of a throwaway account?
      • Re:News for nerds? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by addbo ( 165128 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:08AM (#8560200)
        It is a great account for your junk mail! Then again so is Yahoo... but hotmail was the first I believe =)

        It is also my first email account (got it in 96) and so now people can still contact me after I've moved around the world.

        When a service like Hotmail and MSN go down for a few hours it affects ALOT (millions) of people... nerd included... why shouldn't it be on the frontpage? I know I was interested enough to click on the articles (though I agree they are sparse on details)

    • Sadly enough, considering how many millions of people are dependant on Microsoft's email system, granted I'm sure we all know at least one person who uses their hotmail account on a regular basis. All the same, an impact like that has a larger effect on the world as a whole by canceling out a major piece of the world's communication for a whole day. e.g. - you may not like carrots, but if your girlfriend is a vegetarian who eats carrots like mad and a plague wiped out the nation's carrot crop, she'd be pr
    • Slashdot was down for a few minutes the other day. Why isn't that on the front page?
  • "The company said it was an internal problem rather than an attack on its system..."

    That must have been one heck of an internal problem for it to knock out Hotmail AND MSN Messenger. Maybe their servers BSoD'd! :(
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) < minus pi> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:07AM (#8560194) Homepage Journal

      That must have been one heck of an internal problem for it to knock out Hotmail AND MSN Messenger.

      For example, the problem might have lain in the Passport login servers. Single sign-on is a single point of failure.

      • by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:15AM (#8560219)
        Single sign-on has a flaw. The only legitimate flaw is that you have one username and password to crack, sometimes some challenge reponse questions too if you are into the Novell and Sun directory services.

        At any rate, just because its one password in no way means you can't have a cluster of 5000 servers all storing and accepting transactions for it. I'd hardly call passport servers in Russia, the U.S., Germany, England, China, Japan etc... a single point of failure.

        Normally I'd just assume you were referring to the password issue but right now that has nothing to do with this story so I'll just leave my assumptions out this.
  • by MarkMcLeod ( 759072 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:52AM (#8560145) Homepage
    So that's why I couldn't access my inbox full of ads for Penile Enlargement, Hot Sex, and credit cards...
  • by trotski ( 592530 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:52AM (#8560148)
    Observers noticed a marked decrease in spam emails most of Friday. Analysts remain puzzled.
  • by Betabug ( 58015 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:52AM (#8560149) Homepage

    Judging fromt the description that people had problems logging in, but that things work fine once logged in, and OTOH that Messenger had problems too, I would conclude that the problem is with their Passport infrastructure.

    • by sl956 ( 200477 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:23AM (#8560246)

      Here is today error message for my hotmail account:
      The .NET Passport service is currently unavailable at this Web site for one of these reasons:
      • The site may contain an error or be experiencing a problem that affects the .NET Passport service.
      • The site may not be an official .NET Passport-participating site.
      It was worst on Friday though: there was not even an error message as was either dead or unreachable.
  • by Quizo69 ( 659678 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:53AM (#8560151) Homepage
    Figures. Here I am at a client's house fixing his computer so the cable modem works again, and I'm trying to show him how good Proxomitron works with getting rid of all the Hotmail surrounding ads, and I can't even connect. He didn't believe me when I said that it was probably Hotmail being down....

    Perhaps if it was some routine maintenance on Microsoft's part, they could forewarn people about it? It affects a lot of people's lives, whether free or not.
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:59AM (#8560166) Journal

    Microsoft is very good at maintining their own products and services. Imagine how well Hotmail and MSN have to be configured to be in proper working order to gain respectible uptimes.

    With that in mind, just remember: All those Windows boxes have to be restarted at some point. Hats off to MS for holding out as long as they did. ;-)

    (Flamewar disclaimer: It's a joke. Laugh.)
  • by mrshowtime ( 562809 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @03:59AM (#8560168)
    There should be a TOPIC/STORY negative modifier for old news, or news that is blatantly obvious. Or just have "FARK" tags. If this "story" about how hotmail was down ran on Fark, it would have the "obvious" tag.
  • by I-R-Baboon ( 140733 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:02AM (#8560179)
    Dear Infidel /.er

    Microsoft products and services never suffer any sort of failure that is not announced first. This was not exploited and service was not denied. With our services working, we suspect a massive monitor failure caused by a new virus coded by a member of the linux community. We enjoy providing hotmail, and DEATH TO THE SPAMMER!

    Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
    Director of Public Relations
    Microsoft, Inc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:06AM (#8560191)
    i just got hung up on, and that was approximatly the same time on friday. i was trying to get an activation code for win xp when i was disconnected from them all together. i waited a while thinking that like all good cutomer support they would call me right back because i was hung up on, but waited half an hour and called them to try to talk to the guy i was dealing with, and they told me that they were having serious internal problems. im not sure how it works, but i think MS might use some kind of internal VOIP system because there was a delay in speech with th guy i was talking to as well, but hotmail and their tech support both went down around the same time as i was informed of "major internal problems." so something big happened.
    • by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:17AM (#8560357)
      i just got hung up on, and that was approximatly the same time on friday. i was trying to get an activation code for win xp when i was disconnected from them all together. i waited a while thinking that like all good cutomer support they would call me right back because i was hung up on, but waited half an hour and called them to try to talk to the guy i was dealing with, and they told me that they were having serious internal problems. im not sure how it works, but i think MS might use some kind of internal VOIP system because there was a delay in speech with th guy i was talking to as well, but hotmail and their tech support both went down around the same time as i was informed of "major internal problems." so something big happened.

      Lets get this stright. You -brought- windows XP.
  • by Stefman ( 37546 )
    Maybe it was another attempt to switch from BSD to Windows servers. Don't they know it doesn't work...give it up!!!

  • by oasisbob ( 460665 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:08AM (#8560199)
    ...Hotmail goes down on Friday, and you're the first to know on Sunday!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:10AM (#8560206)
    Anyone notice that whilst Hotmail was down their daily quota of spam reduced ;-)
  • What I liked most... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What I found most alarming was that MS did
    not know if they were under attack or not.
    They first thought some hacker took down their
    system. Then they realized it was some "internal"

    How can a service of that magnitude with M$
    money backing it not realize it was/was not
    under attack?

    Even if there were some coincidental attack
    going on at the same time (it's probably
    a constant issue with big sites), it's
    shocking that they could not properly analyze
    the attack to see if it could explain something
    like, oh,
  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:21AM (#8560243)
    On Friday I was tinkering with a student LAN I help maintain... swapping in new switches, trying to sort out a mess of identical ethernet cables.

    I was about to leave, satisfied that the network was back to running as normal, but people started complaining that they couldn't reach hotmail. That seemed weird since hotmail is typically rock solid... I got kinda stressed by this, thought maybe I was dealing with a bizarre netmask thru DHCP or perhaps a DNS failure.

    What a relief... hotmail was broken :)
  • by myownkidney ( 761203 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:27AM (#8560254) Homepage
    I neither use Hotmail nor messenger. I have my own webmail service, and I use ICQ through trillian because it supports encryption.

    That said, both these services have millions of users. And from what I hear from these users, both services go down pretty frequently, messenger especially so.

    Apparently things have gotten worse since MSN 6 came into being. I have seen MSN 6, and it has the words "lame ass" written all over it.

    If what I hear is true, it takes 2 minutes to login to MSN 6. Quite a lot of your IMs are bounced back.

  • by SmoothTom ( 455688 ) <> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:29AM (#8560260) Homepage
    ... trying to get to the Hotmail FAQ at 0125 on Sunday the 14th, I'm not at all convinced "all is well" (or ever was).

    Luckily I don't use Hotmail (or any other Microsoft product).

    bScreen = 'True'; var searchtextsize="21"; var bSkinny = (screen.width<=800); if (bScreen == 'True') searchtextsize=(bSkinny)? 19:25; var cu, cb, br, INI_Encoded, INI, H_APP, H_APP_Encoded, ITSFile, Filter, BrandID; var v1, v2, v3, v4, bShowSearch,t_contactus,Survey ; cu=' o.asp?pg=ar_eform&_lang=EN'; Survey=''; cb=''; INI_Encoded = 'MSN_Hotmail_PIMv9_FAQ.ini'; INI='MSN_Hotmail_PIMv9_FAQ.ini'; H_APP_Encoded = 'MSN+Hotmail'; H_APP = 'MSN Hotmail'; ITSFile = 'msn%5Fhotmail%5Fpimv9%5FFAQ%2Eits51'; Filter = ''; BrandID = ''; H_VER = '2.6'; bITFind = 'True'; t_contactus="Contact us" v1 = ''; v2 = '?&_lang=EN&country=US'; v3 = ''; v4 = 'DH_FREE'; var sTMT = 'MSN_Hotmail_PIMv9_FAQ'; ; bShowSearch = true; NoMax = '0'; var LEVELMAX = 10; var levelNodes = new Array(LEVELMAX); var activeNode, activeIdx = 0, bActiveSet, activeLevel = 0; var XMLTOCLoaded = false; var sHTTP_REFERER = ' sp?&_lang=EN&country=US'; function CULink(ExtURL) { if (navigator.appName.indexOf("TV") >= 0) { if(ExtURL.indexOf("http") == -1) ExtURL = "http://" + ExtURL; parent.location.href = ExtURL; } else {,'_helpext'); } }

    Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a01f4'

    Variable is undefined: 'agent_isSafari'

    E:\WEBROOT\PRODUCTION\HELP\CON TENT\EN_US\..\!shared\ c, line 27
  • Hmmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by warlockgs ( 593818 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:42AM (#8560276)
    I was going to send the webmaster an email saying that the hotmail/msn services were down, but I couldn't get into my hotmail to send it. What do people do in these kinds of situations?
  • by auzy ( 680819 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:49AM (#8560289)
    Microsoft basically wants to centralise everything in the future in longhorn.. And this pretty much proves that while it might be good for them, that major problems will arise.

    .. For instance, Networks like MSN messenger are completely centralised.. Sure MS has full control over it, but unlike decentralised networks like jabber, if one server goes down, the entire network doesn't..

    I'm hoping consumers learn from this and learn about the importance of decentralisation, and from now on make choices taking into account decentralisation too..

    sorry, just thought this thread needed someone to expand on this little event
  • Can I sue? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zakabog ( 603757 ) < minus threevowels> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:49AM (#8560290)
    Can I sue for damages incurred because I couldn't order my penis enlargement pills before my porn audition? Damn you microsoft, you kept me from making millions! Now just give me some money and we'll call it even.
  • by AvengerXP ( 660081 ) <jeanfrancois@beaulieu.mckesson@ca> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:00AM (#8560322)
    No "customers" were harmed. The only people who use Hotmail are people who are too poor/lazy to install their own ISP's mail system on their machines.

    And if you base your business on Hotmail, i'd say you have a serious I.T. decisions problem.
    • by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:09AM (#8560339)
      And if you base your business on Hotmail, i'd say you have a serious I.T. decisions problem.

      I'd totally agree. But it doesn't change the fact that a very large number of small businesses do use hotmail email addresses. I can walk down any highstreet near where I live and see hotmail addresses on shop windows and the side of vans.

      Hotmail has become the choice for people that know nothing about IT and just want something simple that works.
    • by ZWithaPGGB ( 608529 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @11:26AM (#8561598)
      Yes, "Customers" were affected. There are plenty of people who pay for extra storage on Hotmail. Also, Windows Messenger is a part of XP, which people pay for, so it is a service that they PAID for.
      Last, but by no means least, anyone who uses other Passport authenticated services, like MSDN (Costs over $2K a year, I have it) was unable to connect. Considering that many of those services are the very ones that people need to prep for deployment of XP SP2, which I would wager a lot of organizations were planning on testing and/or deploying this weekend, having the tech resources needed to properly configure and evaluate that deployment off-line presents a major problem.
      Your assertion that no-one of consequence, or who paid for a service, was harmed is complete BS. It simply indicates that you have no idea what else Passport authenticates, or maybe even how Hotmail works.
  • by niittyniemi ( 740307 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:20AM (#8560367) Homepage

    From the MS case study [] on converting Hotmail from FreeBSD to 2K:

    > Changing the operating system on each server should have
    > zero impact on day-to-day operations.

    No impact whatsoever....if you ignore uptimes :)

    > Under FreeBSD, bugs and memory leaks would often go
    > undetected because of the lack of tools. With Windows 2000
    > and IIS 5, the tools exist to optimize the performance and
    > truly understand exactly what the code is doing at all
    > times.

    Crikey, handy they've got all those tools to help them out (soooo unlike FreeBSD with all it's bug leaks). Looks like it's saved their asses this time round...

    Microsoft: Where do you want go today?

    Customer: I want to take a rock solid service that has true customer value and turn it into a spam ridden, bug infested hole that doesn't work half the time and customers hate.

    Microsoft: Consider it done!

    • With Windows 2000 and IIS 5, the tools exist to optimize the performance and truly understand exactly what the code is doing at all times. (emphasis mine)

      You mean I can attach a debugger to a running Windows kernel just like I can with UNIX kernels and look at header files and documentation to understand the data structures and run-time parameters?

      Vendor-paid case studies. Lame 2001 reference: "My god, it's full of lies!"

      Any IT professional that relies on a vendor-provided case study for decision makin
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:44AM (#8560426)
    I was thinking - why did they post this as a story, who cares about Hotmail downtime, ...but then I realised that it IS important, it just goes to remind us all of how invasive one single company is, so invasive that in the software area that I specialise is, although there are well over 20 equivalent products, I already have to assess the QUALITY of products as such:

    1. Microsoft: assessed: .. 80% on dominance, .. 10% luck, .. and 10% on product features
    - it will get 15-50% of the market simply because of who it is, and will either be Market leader, or number 2.

    2. All the others, which get assessed mainly 50-90% on product features.

    So then of course the advice has to be, well one of the advantages of selecting the MS product because you know that you won't have to convert the data from some other system that will be driven into the ground by MS.

    I can only advise clients the "truth" - that is what I get paid for, but I am not happy with this situation.

    In this particular market segment, I can say that MS would not get in the "top 3" in terms of features.

    This is a terribly sad situation to be in, and people need to be reminded of this regularly. The lack of action by authorities on Monopoly practices appears to show that the MS Billions have won the day.

    I am not a Linux-plugger, and I know that MS has produced some good services, however these days they are way beyond the scope of traditional monopoly abuse. Are all politicians and scientists out there so "chicken" or greedy?

    no sig. of course!
  • Even MS has to patch their own servers.

    TechAdmin: We have to install the latest Mediaplayer updates on the Hotmail servers.

    Executive Manager: Why, that means downtime - for every minute downtime of I get less bonus! The servers stay up!

    TA: But we have to install these updates because without them we can not patch the servers.

    EM: Why do we need to patch the servers?

    TA: To make them more secure.

    EM: But we use our own MS Products...

    TA: That's we need to patch so often!

    EM: But the latest patches were not labeled even 'critical'

    TA: That's because of Steve and Bill and the guys from marketing, so they can tell everyone that our products are secure.

    [May someother continue...]
  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @07:45AM (#8560686) Homepage
    I wondered why I wasn't getting so much spam yesterday.
  • by BrianB ( 7440 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @07:59AM (#8560709)
    Google news has been running the headline:

    "Microsoft restores faulty Hotmail service"

    I thought that said it all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2004 @08:18AM (#8560750)
    It was a .NET Passport outage. Even if you have no clue what this is, you almost certainly have one if you have a hotmail email address, or use MSN, or MS Money, MSN messenger, or a million other services. It's even used for RADIUS authentication of MSN dialup users.

    Unlike Hotmail, which still runs primarily on UNIX, Passport is entirely based on Windows servers.

    Passport is the authentication / single sign-on system for all these MSN services. If it's down, everything's down. And sadly it has proven a little unreliable recently, for reasons never disclosed.
  • by displaced80 ( 660282 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @11:11AM (#8561517)
    Jim(staring at Software Update Services admin page): Hey, Dave! Is it safe to apply this Combo-Uber-Hyper Security Update Patch for March 2004 for SQL, IIS, MDAC, Windows Scripting MediaWotsit Turbo?

    Dave (not really paying attention): Yeah. Sure. Why not. We've got that Magic Roll-back Button they told us about in MSCE class, haven't we...

    Jim: Cool. click... Uhh.. Approve.. yeah, that's it. click... Woohoo. Damn, this makes patch management easy! Christ, I'm smart.

    FX: Alarms... sirens... flashing lights...

    Dave (sighing) ... clicks 'roll back' button... minutes pass... sirens continue

    Jim: Uh-oh. I'll call someone.

    Dave (rising panic): But.... the button! It said... roll back! (..close to tears now...) Oh, why does this happen every time... *sobs* .... those damn Roll Back engineers, I swear they just party all night and turn up to work with hangovers.... Well that's the final straw! I'm quitting. I'm gonna learn me some SCO and go work for EV1Servers. Ha!
  • Not only Hotmail... (Score:3, Informative)

    by claes ( 25551 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @12:04PM (#8561791)
    .. about a week or two ago all of , etc was down for more than a day. Not only did this affect people trying to surf on java-related pages. It also affected some java tools that tried to validate EJB deployment descriptors as the default DTD was located at this server. Certain default ant tasks hung since they tried to do lookup of, and this was not available. I wonder how many application servers were affected by this downtime? It was briefly mentioned on [].
  • by Nathan Johansen ( 762156 ) <> on Sunday March 14, 2004 @02:34PM (#8562726)

    A recent cumulative update patch for Internet Explorer browsers removes support for the basic authentication method for HTTP and HTTPS URL's - a response to widespread misuse of the functionality to spoof web addresses to trick unsuspecting users into revealing personal information to a dubious third-party. However, a side effect of this patch includes intermittent clobbering of hidden form fields used to maintain state or session on sites that do not implement cookies. This will render most script driven web sites useless.. Also, installing this patch clears out and resets any internal IE cache of username and password combinations used on frequently visited sites, causing people to have to enter these details anew.

    It is likely that this issue may be responsible for the recently reported Hotmail and MSN related outages (CNN []) and a variety of increasing problems on many other web sites as users continue to install the update patch into their IE browser over time. A MS TechNet [] article describes this problem and proposes workarounds - one is to uninstall the patch, or install a new patch to fix the previous patch for users of IE 6.0 and higher. Web site operators are also encouraged to increase the server KeepAlive connection timeout, although a specific numeric suggestion isn't proposed. There is an informative thread on this topic available in the Google Groups [] UseNet archives. Apparently this issue has been growing more problematic over the past five weeks, and will continue to effect sites and users unless steps are taken to address it.

    IMHO: An illustrative analogy to this problem would be like your automobile manufacturer determining that accidents are caused by vehicles in motion. As a solution, all tires will be removed, thereby preventing accidents. What a great cure.

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis