A downed server apparently caused the Windows Live outage on Feb. 16, which denied a small number of subscribers access to their Hotmail and Xbox Live services.
"We had an issue with the Windows Live ID service between 9 and 10AM PST this morning," Arthur De Haan, a member of the Windows Live team, wrote in a Feb. 16 posting on the Inside Windows Live blog. "Due to the failure of one server, Windows Live ID logins were failing for some customers, and this increased the load on our remaining servers."
De Haan claimed that the "problematic" server was then taken offline in favor of a new one, and that the root cause of the issue was identified and corrected in less than an hour. However, "it took a while to resolve the logjam that had built up in the meantime, and to redistribute the load to normal levels." While the exact number of users who were denied access to their Windows Live services was unknown, Microsoft insists the number was relatively small.
The company was, inevitably, "sorry for the inconvenience."
Microsoft's Live platform is becoming an integral part of the company's overall strategy as it makes increased initiatives into the cloud space, while Hotmail remains second behind Yahoo in number of U.S. users.
In a September 2009 interview with eWEEK, Ryan Gavin, director of platform strategy at Microsoft, suggested that Hotmail boasts advantages over Gmail, particularly in the enterprise space.
"With respect to Hotmail, we're very clearly focused on that home to work efficiency, that young busy professional or busy mom, nailing that best inbox for that future experience," Gavin said at the time. "It's not clear right now where Gmail's prime focus is. With Google Labs, there [are] a lot of features that get rolled out regularly that are somewhat unfocused, and it's not clear who should be applying what when."
However, Google has been targeting both Microsoft and IBM in the cloud-collaboration space; in July 2009, the search engine giant boosted its competitive profile for SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) and the enterprise by removing its core Google Apps, including Gmail, from beta.
In turn, Microsoft is escalating against Google and other cloud-based productivity platforms by offering stripped-down versions of Word, OneNote, Excel and PowerPoint to Microsoft Live subscribers, while still holding back many of those applications' higher-level functions for those users who purchase the full version of Office 2010. But as Google already knows, thanks to a series of minor outages throughout 2009, posting your users' applications to the cloud can translate into periodic downtimes due to server outages and other problems.