"Some users have been experiencing
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Sohn said the company detected problems with the .Net Passport servers around 3:30 p.m. PST and the company's technical team had it under control about three hours later. "We think we've fixed it, and we're continuing to monitor the situation," he said.
The outage affected some customers who attempted to sign on to a personalized service linked to Passport, Microsoft's central gateway that millions of consumers use to access multiple Web sites or services. For example, Microsoft customers use Passport to access the Web-based e-mail service Hotmail, MSN Messenger, MSN 8.0 and so-called wallet services connected to third-party shopping sites.
Microsoft has encountered Passport server problems before. Last May, a server glitchHotmail service during what the company called a "partial outage."
Thursday's trouble was rooted in the hardware linking the machines that power access to online accounts, Sohn said. "It's more about how the things are strung together and not problems with the actual operating system."
MSN subscriber Nancy Carroll said the glitch prevented her from signing on to instant messenger and one of her two Hotmail accounts. "I can live without checking the (one) e-mail every day, (and) lack of IM is aggravating but not crucial these days," she said.
Microsoft's technical support pages contain postings detailing the troubles of other customers.
Sohn said the company supports about 200 million Passport accounts, with many subscribers maintaining several different screen names.