Michael Chaney, a Linux consultant from Nashville, Tenn., said he paid the bill by credit card through the online payment service of domain name registrar Network Solutions after he was denied access to his Hotmail account on Christmas Eve.
"I wasn't trying to embarrass Microsoft," he said in an interview with CNET News.com. "I figured it would make life a lot easier to a lot of Hotmail users."
Neither Microsoft nor Network Solutions could be reached immediately to confirm Chaney's account of how the problem was solved. It was unclear how many users were affected.
The lapse, which was first reported on the Internet news service Slashdot.org, was apparently caused when Microsoft's registration for the Passport.com domain name expired sometime Dec. 24, Chaney said. The Passport.com site verifies user identification and passwords for access to Hotmail and about 25 other services, according to Chaney.
Chaney said he paid the bill Dec. 25 at about 2 p.m. EST and was given invoice #11395965 documenting the transaction. An electronic copy of the receipt can be viewed at his Web site at "www.doublewide.net."
Hotmail service was likely restored by 5 a.m. the following day during a normally scheduled server update, he said.
Chaney said Microsoft has yet to contact him to thank him for his actions or to offer to reimburse the $35 registration fee.