Microsoft's software activation service is coming in for a new round of fire in the wake of a system outage that prevented the company issuing activation codes to its Australian customers over the weekend.
The outage struck during one of the busiest retail trading days, lasting from around 12pm to 6pm Saturday.
At this stage the geographic impact of the weekend outage is unknown. However it is understood that it crippled both Internet and phone-based activation services.
Customers who called Microsoft's toll free product activation number (included with its software) to acquire a code were told by customer service staff that the company was temporarily unable to provide activation codes.
Harris Technology spokesperson, Les Thomas, said complaints concerning Microsoft's Internet activation service had been noted by its technical support operation, but he said they were small in comparison to the number of complaints it received about the system in connection with Windows Server 2003.
According to Thomas, Harris Technology received a large number of complaints from new owners of Windows Server 2003 as they were unable to activate the product over the Internet until around three weeks after the product was released.
According to Microsoft, 70 percent of product activation transactions associated with its software take place over the Internet.
However, representatives of Microsoft Australia today refused to comment on the weekend outage. The company today said it was still unable to verify that an outage had taken place.
There are serious questions as to how Microsoft Australia could be unaware that of the status of that service.
Microsoft replaced its customer relationship management system with a recorded message informing customers the service was closed throughout Saturday.
Customers reported experiencing lengthy delays using Microsoft's CRM system during attempts to acquire activation codes immediately before the company closed the number around midday.
The company would not reveal whether the activation service it uses to dispense codes to Australian customers was dedicated to local customers or shared with others throughout the Asia Pacific region.
Microsoft introduced product activation to its Office XP generation software as a means to curtail piracy. Microsoft customers are now currently required to activate non-volume licensed and OEM versions of Windows XP, Visio 2002 and Microsoft Project 2002.