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Google, Microsoft outages: Two different outlooks?

While Google experienced a minutes-long outage Friday, Microsoft offered a three-day outage to its mail services. Two companies heading in opposite directions?

3 min read
Sunday's status report. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It might be something to do with a complete inability to trust my fellow human, but I don't stick to any one provider of Web services.

I use three different browsers and three different e-mail services.

I have no adoration toward any of them, but if there's one thing that's hard not to admit, it's that most of Google's tend to work a little better than anyone else's.

Which made me wonder how last week might have proved that point.

Microsoft's Outlook e-mail has sometimes -- at least for me -- been more erratic than a Fernet-ridden fly.

Far too often, if I try to reply to a message, the system tells me it can't complete that action just at the moment.

Sometimes, I try to send a message and the software keeps spinning without conclusion.

I have to open Outlook again in a separate tab to discover that, yes, despite what the first tab was telling me, the message had been sent, but Outlook hadn't quite updated its outlook on that.

When Outlook (and SkyDrive and Contacts) went down last week, it was more than awkward.

It started with no mobile syncing and ended with no anything at all.

After hours of this, I contacted Microsoft's Service arm via Twitter. The apologies were expansive. The explanations weren't.

All I was told was: "Thanks for letting us know, Chris. Please keep checking spr.ly/6013ZhDS for service status updates."

This I did. However, even when the service status update finally said that Outlook was working normally, mine actually wasn't.

Microsoft Support suggested I keep checking the service status updates. Franz Kafka, do you read me?

"We understand your concern. We're working to resolve this as soon as possible. Check out spr.ly/6018ZhwM for updates," read the message.

Ultimately, the company explained that it was having caching problems.

Three days seemed a very long time to solve them.

For some time now, Microsoft has been telling me (and you) that Google is a quite heinous little organization.

From the Scroogled campaign to an anti-Chrome campaign, I'm supposed to think that if Google bought me a latte, it would be polluted.

Yet one thing Google can largely be trusted with it to make things that work more often than they don't. When it suffered an outage Friday, it also suggested people look at the service status board.

The outage lasted between 2 and 5 minutes, and no meaningful explanation beyond "nothing to see here" was offered.

That might reflect a certain confidence (or even arrogance) on Google's part, just as Microsoft's outage might reflect a certain confusion at its end.

It's tempting to whisper that these two outages show two companies headed in opposite directions -- though, who knows, it's summer time, so perhaps Microsoft's best engineers are sunning themselves somewhere in the Bahamas, while interns man the fort. (Googlies don't do vacations, do they?)

But there can surely be little doubt that Google buys loyalty (if not love) because its products just work, while Microsoft doesn't quite have the same reputation.

Sunday morning, I looked again at the status of my Microsoft accounts.

Everything seemed to be normal. Well, except: "A problem was recently resolved, and Calendar is now running normally."

I'll keep using my three e-mail services. I might, though, spread the load a little differently.