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Microsoft customers back in the Money

The software giant comes up with a workaround to a glitch that shut some Microsoft Money users out of their accounts for almost five days.

Five days after a server error first shut some Microsoft Money users out of their online accounts, Microsoft issued a workaround that restored access.

On Friday, the software giant posted instructions to its Web site to help customers affected by the blackout to log into their online accounts. The workaround comes after a server glitch shut out some Money customers throughout the week. While members who logged in before or after Monday and Tuesday could access their accounts, some who tried to log in during that period were shut out.

Microsoft would not say how many people were affected, but customers frustrated by the glitch flooded message boards. Many feared that the outage might delete their files. Microsoft denied that any information was lost during the blackout period.

The company also denied that the blackout stemmed from any problems with its Passport sign-in service. It pointed out that other services using Passport, such as Hotmail, have not experienced any problems.

The work-around first instructs users to try to access Money offline without signing on to Passport. Since online features appear throughout Money, users must sign in with their Passport account to gain access to their files. People who don't need Passport to sign in, and gain direct offline access to the software, may be using a version of Money that does not link to the Web, according to a Microsoft representative.

Those who require Passport to get into Money are then instructed to download a software wizard that restores access.

So far, the workaround seems to be working. Message board postings on Friday were more upbeat than the comments made throughout the week.

"I am back in business," one affected user wrote. "Thank you very much for your efforts."

Others suggested new tactics to Microsoft, in hopes of preventing another blackout.

"Perhaps Microsoft needs to rethink the architecture of how Passport interacts with Money," another poster wrote. "Maybe like a secondary password that would allow at least local access in case Passport gets garbled again."