Hotmail hit by new round of problems

Hotmail reaches 40 million members, but service hasn't been up to snuff of late. Some users claim to have been shut out for four days.

Paul Festa Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Paul Festa
covers browser development and Web standards.
Paul Festa
2 min read
Hotmail users are getting hot under the collar about a new round of service problems that some claim have kept them out of their accounts for as long as four days.

Microsoft's MSN Hotmail has amassed more than 40 million active members, according to Microsoft, and the free Web mail has had a rough time keeping up with demand. Complaints frequently have dogged the free service.

Hotmail product manager Laura Norman today said that the site underwent a 30-minute long bandwidth upgrade this morning. But she acknowledged that the half-hour upgrade did not account for users' complaints about service over the last few days or those that persisted into the afternoon.

Norman was not immediately able to determine what was keeping users out of their accounts, but said Hotmail was looking into the problems.

Hotmail's service troubles follow on a two-day complete outage by Microsoft's newly acquired Jump Networks, an integrated suite of Web-based applications including email and calendars that is currently in beta. Norman said the Jump outage and the recent Hotmail problems were unrelated.

Locked-out Hotmail users have taken to newsgroups to vent their frustrations.

"Hotmail appears to be down at the moment, and seems to be inaccessible regularly," wrote one user in the "alt.online-service.microsoft" newsgroup. CNET News.com today received several similar reports from readers.

Service problems tend to make themselves felt spottily throughout Hotmail's 40 million accounts, as a complaint by a user with multiple accounts demonstrated:

"I've got a problem with one of my Hotmail accounts," wrote another participant in "alt.online-service.microsoft." "For two days, I haven't been able to access it...whereas the others are working quite OK even though slowly."

And proving that you can't displease all of the people all of the time, one "alt.online-service.microsoft" participant chimed in to defend Hotmail.

"I use Hotmail.com and I love it!" she wrote. "I'm actually going to sign up for msn.com because Microsoft has really good service!"

Microsoft houses its Hotmail servers with hosting and bandwidth provider Exodus Communications, and receives Internet bandwidth from both Exodus and other providers. Norman said that Microsoft and Exodus "work closely" on maintaining service.