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MSN Messenger, Hotmail on the fritz

Microsoft investigates customer complaints that both MSN Messenger and Hotmail have been intermittently inaccessible since Friday morning.

Microsoft is investigating customer complaints that both MSN Messenger and Hotmail have been intermittently inaccessible since Friday morning, a representative said.

Hotmail users complained to CNET that the service could not be accessed several times during the day on Friday. Microsoft's instant-messaging application, MSN Messenger, also had connectivity problems.

Flashback's previous coverage
of Passport-related problems
(Aug. 15, 2001)
(Nov. 2, 2001)
(Sept. 2, 2002)
(Jan. 30, 2003)
(May 8, 2003)

"This morning, MSN customers began experiencing issues accessing various services, such as Messenger (and) Hotmail," a Microsoft representative said. "Microsoft is currently determining the cause and is taking appropriate steps to remedy the situation as quickly as possible."

The Hotmail Web site and other Passport-powered sites could only be successfully accessed 50 percent of the time, according to Internet performance measurement service Keynote Systems. Usually, the sites can be accessed 100 percent of the time.

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Although Microsoft did not finger Passport as the cause of the issues, a hiccup in the affected services could be explained by problems in the company's Internet identity service, said Roopak Patel, senior analyst at Keynote.

"If there is an issue, it is causing the same effects across different (Microsoft) domains," Patel said, adding, "It's not impacting the Internet as a whole."

Microsoft's identity service has been stable in recent history, but Passport has had its share of troubles.

Almost a year ago, a flaw in the system could have allowed an attacker to access customer information using only the victim's e-mail address. Software flaws in the system's security also left consumers' financial data vulnerable, forcing Microsoft to shut down its Wallet service to protect people from having their data stolen.

Microsoft does not believe that the current issue could affect customer data, the representative said.