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Passport glitch hits Microsoft game site

The Zone suffers another glitch in its switch to Microsoft's Passport identification system, logging subscribers on to a bogus Hotmail e-mail account.

Microsoft's online gaming site suffered another glitch in its switch to the Passport identification system, logging subscribers on to a bogus Hotmail e-mail account Monday.

A Microsoft representative said Tuesday that the glitch affected those who tried to access their Hotmail account via links on The Zone, the game portion of Microsoft's MSN online service. Instead of being taken to their own account, people were sent to a test account for "customer!"

Although the error didn't expose Hotmail account information to others, messages erroneously sent from the "customer!" account could be read by others.

The Microsoft representative said the company was notified of the glitch Monday and fixed it shortly afterward. But when CNET tried to log on to Hotmail via The Zone on Tuesday, the site presented an error message written in Dutch.

The representative said Monday's glitch was related to The Zone switching over to the Passport online authentication system. Last month, numerous Zone users, including paying subscribers for games such as "Asheron's Call," were unable to access their accounts when Microsoft started making the switchover.

Passport, a key part of Microsoft's .Net plan for focusing on online services, has attracted widespread criticism over possible privacy and security lapses.