Microsoft is acknowledging that a substantial number of its MSN services customers experienced a major service outage on Friday, but is still saying little about the cause.
By Saturday morning, Hotmail, Passport and MSN Messenger seemed to be functioning properly again. Microsoft did not respond by press time with an update as to when the sites came back up or what caused the outage.
Some news sites on the Internet reported that the MSN services were restored by 4:30 p.m. PST on Friday, with Microsoft attributing the outage to an unidentified "internal issue," as opposed to a distributed denial-of-service attack or other malicious event.
On Friday, a Microsoft spokeswoman noted that the first reports of problems accessing MSN Messenger, Hotmail and other MSN-related services, such as Passport, began at 8:30 a.m. PST on Friday.
"While we do not have an exact count regarding the customers affected by this issue, it appears to affect a significant portion of our customers," said an MSN spokeswoman.
"Customers that are already logged into Hotmail, MSN Messenger or other MSN services should be able to continue to use those services," she said. "This issue is primarily affecting new logons and is not affecting all of our customers.
"Were actively investigating the cause and are working to take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation as rapidly as possible," the spokeswoman added. " We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and disruption this may be causing our customers."
At 6:30 p.m. EST, a company spokeswoman said the issue had been identified. "Over the next couple of hours we anticipate having service fully restored to all customers," she said.
"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or disruption this may have caused our customers. We do not disclose specifics regarding our internal operations, however we can confirm that we have no indication at all that this service issue was related to any external causes including a denial of service attack or other malicious activities," the spokeswoman said.
Roopak Patel, a senior analyst with the public services division of the Internet performance-analysis firm Keynote Systems said that so far Keynote was unable to conclude why Microsofts various MSN sites were down.
Patel said that Keynote had tried accessing Hotmail, Passport and MSN.com from a number of cities across the country, starting at 1 p.m. PST, and had a 50 percent success rate.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include late-breaking information and comments from the company.
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