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MSN email outage ahead

Plagued with constant email problems, Microsoft Network will yank and replace its email servers three weeks ahead of schedule.

Plagued with constant email problems, Microsoft Network tonight will yank its existing nine email servers and replace them with 18 new servers, three weeks ahead of schedule.

The switch means that MSN members will have to live without email for the next 24 to 36 hours, Jessica Ostrow, MSN product manager told CNET NEWS.COM. But in the end, they'll be a lot happier because the system should run free of glitches, she said.

Email will be collected during the outage and delivered when the email system is up. The email server swap will not affect other MSN services, Ostrow said.

MSN has had problems with its email servers for several months. Two servers that deliver mail to customers with names beginning with the letters C, D, and E, as well as T through Z, have had intermittent problems since Monday.

Ostrow said MSN fixed the problems temporarily and delivered all the mail, but after a meeting decided to bump up its replacement schedule.

"We had planned to do an email upgrade in about three weeks to double our capacity," Ostrow said. "Instead of letting these problems persist over next three weeks, we want to attack them right now."

MSN isn't the only one with email problems. Its primary competitor, America Online (AOL), had an email spike last Monday and still hasn't fully recovered.

Ostrow said she's not surprised by the problems.

"Across the industry we're seeing lot of different networks experiencing email difficulties," she said. "It's just a factor of the explosive growth with people getting online and really starting to use email to its full capacity."

Ostrow hopes to have the servers back up by Friday afternoon, but the delay may last through Saturday morning.