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Hotmail suffers morning outage

Microsoft's e-mail service suffered problems Friday morning, when a "networking issue" left customers unable to log in for about three and a half hours.

A "networking issue" on Friday locked out millions of Microsoft's Hotmail e-mail users for more than three hours, but the service has since been restored.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company first discovered the problem at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time and "fully restored" service by 9:50 a.m. The spokeswoman said no customer data was lost during the outage. She declined to offer further details about the nature of the problem.

During the outage, attempts to log in were met with a message, saying: "This server is too busy." Since the Hotmail home page did appear, the company had advised customers to try logging in again.

The issue was the latest instance in which glitches rendered Hotmail inaccessible. In March, sign-in problems prevented Hotmail users from accessing their accounts, leading some to speculate that the issue stemmed from Microsoft's Passport authentication software.

The company says Hotmail is the world's most popular Web e-mail service, boasting more than 145 million active users, as of January.