Microsoft Blames Hotmail Outage on Server Issues

Microsoft claims the Hotmail outage affecting 17,355 users last week was caused by mailbox load balancing between servers. It also insists service is restored.

Microsoft is blaming its recent Hotmail outage on server issues.

"Beginning on December 30th we had an issue with Windows Live Hotmail that impacted 17,355 accounts," Chris Jones, vice president of Windows Live engineering, wrote in a Jan. 3 post on the Inside Windows Live blog. "Customers impacted temporarily lost the contents of their mailbox through the course of mailbox load balancing between servers."

Jones then insisted that Microsoft had "restored e-mail to the impacted accounts as of yesterday evening, January 2nd," and that the company was "very sorry for the inconvenience."

Over the weekend, users had taken to the Windows Live Solution Center's online forums to complain about missing e-mail and new messages moved to their Deleted folders. By Jan. 2, the problem had escalated to the point where news reports started to appear, and Microsoft's engineers worked to fix what the company termed "a limited issue."

By 5 a.m. on Jan. 3, e-mail had supposedly been restored. "If you are still missing your e-mail, please post your issue here," wrote a Microsoft moderator on the forums, linking back to the Windows Live Solution Center (login required).

However, some users still complained of issues. "I've seen some reports of some people having their missing e-mail being restored, but mine are not," read a note posted on the forums Jan. 3 at 10:31 a.m. "What do I need to do?"

By Jan. 4, users were still posting messages about lost e-mail, but it remains unclear whether those complaints are isolated incidents or connected somehow to the earlier Hotmail outage.

"I have all my junbox [sic] e-mails but I don't have any inbox SAVED emails. help please!" reads one comment posted Jan. 4 on the Windows Live Solution Center.

"When I signed on to my account today, my Inbox was completely clean," notes another. "I looked at my deleted e-mails and did not see any of the ones that should have been in the Inbox. So, I know none were accidently deleted."

In a bid to compete against both Google and Yahoo, which have steadily expanded their e-mail offerings over the past several quarters, Microsoft has introduced updates to Hotmail, including Facebook Chat integration, the ability to track packages within an e-mail without needing to navigate to the shipper's Website, a new e-mail attachment size of 25MG, support for viewing Dailymotion and videos from within an e-mail, and subfolders for more precise mail management.