Netizens visiting MSN.com today were confronted with a curious log-in section on top of the regular features offered on the portal.
Above the MSN search bar, and encompassing the entire screen when launched, read: "Internet Service Manager for Internet Information Server 4.0. Your password has expired. You can change it now."
The glitch, which lasted 21 minutes (ending shortly after noon, PT), was the result of an expired password in one of the servers powering MSN.com, according to Nichole Hardy, MSN.com product manager. Hardy added that the expired password was strictly internal, and did not affect any user passwords or compromise registered user security.
"On the Microsoft network account, for security reasons, we all change our passwords every 90 days," said Hardy. "This server got missed in the 90-day cycle."
MSN.com is Microsoft's pet portal project. The Web-based search, e-commerce, and content-aggregation service aims to challenge the likes of current leaders such as Yahoo, and America Online's own Web-based portal, AOL.com.
Microsoft has gone to great lengths to fold all of its Web properties under one MSN-branded umbrella that will offer a more diverse audience pool to advertisers. First USA has bought into the strategy, announcing today that it will pay $90 million for a high-profile advertising agreement on MSN over five years.