Microsoft's Messenger Service in Outage Flap

The Microsoft .NET Messenger service, which drives the company's Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger Instant Messaging (IM) applications, suffered a mysterious outage for several hours yesterday morning, leading to speculative reports that the software giant isn't adequately providing backup power supplies and fault tolerance to this critical .NET infrastructure service. However, as of late yesterday, Microsoft said it still doesn't know what caused the outage, which left millions of Messenger users unable to access their IM accounts and, in some cases, Hotmail-based email.

"It's a worldwide outage, and most customers are affected," Bob Visse, MSN director of marketing, told CNET. "We're investigating it, but we do not know what the issue is." Microsoft began receiving complaints about the outage at approximately 6:00 A.M. yesterday; the service was back up by noon. The company said it was "fairly widespread."

Microsoft apologized for the outage and is still investigating its cause. Visse says that such outages are rare and that the .NET Passport service, which performs authentication services for .NET Messenger and Hotmail, is working properly.

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