Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

Summary: Over the past weekend, a number of Hotmail users reported that their Hotmail messages in various folders were gone. Microsoft officials said on January 3 that the company had identified the cause of the problem and fixed it. There's still a lot we don't know about this outage, however.


Over the past weekend, a number of Hotmail users reported that their Hotmail messages in various folders were gone. (And were, unsurprisingly, none too happy about it.)

Microsoft officials said on January 3 that the company had identified the cause of the problem and fixed it.

Here's what we still don't know: How many users were affected? What caused the problem? What is Microsoft doing to make sure it doesn't occur again? No word.

Update: One question answered. More than 17,000 users were affected by the Hotmail outage (out of 360 million Hotmail users total.)

This is the official statement the company is releasing, via a spokesperson, with no further information provided:

"There was not a widespread outage. We are working with the select users who reported issues, and apologize for any inconvenience."

On January 2, Microsoft officials posted a message in the Hotmail support forums acknowledging the issue:

"We have identified the source of the issue have restored email access to those who were effected.  We recognize that even though we restored email access, some of the affected users did not receive mail sent to them during the last 24-72 hours. We are in the process of rectifying that and should be finished by late tonight Pacific time. "

On January 3, there was a follow-up message posted to the forums:

"We have restored the emails to those who were effected. If you are still missing your emails, please post your issue here (please note that you need to be logged in to the site to be able to post) with as much detailed information as possible (How much wasn’t restored, and any specifics that you may have) We sincerely apologize and thank you for your continued patience."

I didn't lose access to any of my Hotmail messages over the weekend. I did, however, experience an odd -- and maybe related -- issue with Hotmail on my Windows Phone 7 loaner device. For two days, my phone didn't display a count of unread Hotmail messages on my opening screen. This morning (January 3), the count is displaying again.

I asked the aforementioned spokesperson whether my issue might be related to the missing Hotmail messages and was told that no one else had reported the problem I had. I'm curious: Any other WP7 users out there notice a similar problem this weekend?

I'm also interested if anyone has more information on the cause/resolution of the outage.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Collaboration


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

    They were gone, they are back, no problem.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

    my WP7 Hotmail live tile has been updating throughout the weekend.
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

    Microsoft is a bunch of Amateurs.
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

    [i]How many users were affected? What caused the problem? What is Microsoft doing to make sure it doesn?t occur again? No word.[/i]

    In other words, EPIC HOSE.
    ahh so
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

    I'm glad there are a number of email options available to us in this day and age. But I must say, of all the ones I've tried, Microsoft's hotmail has always been near the bottom of my list. I'm not in any way anti-Microsoft, and use lots of their products every day. I'm quite satisfied with Outlook for email at work, and use the Office suite all the time. I'm totally OK with my current editions of Windows and Explorer ... but having tried at least a dozen different email systems for my personal home use over the years, I can comfortably say that none of them was more disappointing to me than hotmail.

    I started out, AGES ago, accessing the web via AOL. Back then, there weren't a lot of options. During those years, I used AOL's email, and while it had its problems, in general, it worked acceptably well for me. When I dumped AOL it wasn't due to problems with their email, but, as provider options grew, I simply found no reason to continue using them for web access.

    Having left AOL behind, I tried hotmail first. "Hey, it's Microsoft ... how bad can it be?" I thought. After about two months experience, I began looking for alternatives. Hotmail, in those days, was riddled with problems. There were far too many instances of trouble and far too many forms of trouble (can't log in, can't access my inbox, lost emails, unsent messages ...), so I tried a few others. Eventually, I switched to Yahoo!'s mail. I was satisfied there for a while, until a friend suggested I try gmail. Yahoo was OK, and presented me with few problems compared to hotmail, but once I'd tried gmail, I felt no desire to go back to Yahoo! Then, and now, gmail suits my personal preferences better AND never causes me problems of any kind. I'd all but forgotten that hotmail existed.

    Then, not long ago, I reconnected with hotmail to enable me to coach a client of mine who needed help administering their hotmail account. Once there, I was amazed at how unappealing it was and how completely devoid it was of many of the features I wanted. It seems more stable than in the old days (or so I thought until reading this article), but still ... that's all they've done with hotmail in all these years?

    I talked to a former MS employee I know who was involved with hotmail in the early days and asked him what he thought of it, then and now. He said that, in his opinion, it was never intended to be more than a low end email service and that MS spent as little money supporting it as possible. If that's the case, then I'm not surprised.

    All that said, I know people who use hotmail as their primary personal email and are quite satisfied with it. For that cross section of folks, it provides what they are looking for. And that's cool. For me, hotmail is to email what bicycles are to wheeled transportation.
    Trep Ford
    • It might have started out like that... But..

      @Trep Ford
      I do believe Microsoft's started to focus a LOT more attention (and money) on the Hotmail product. It's the cornerstone of their LiveID system - the old Passport reborn. Your Hotmail log in gets you into Skydrive, Office web apps, etc... It can also be used to log into TechNet, MSDN, Connect and any number of other Microsoft services.
  • No sign of MIA emails this weekend...

    I've got a Hotmail account - it's my front line spam catching email. I didn't notice anything odd. The stuff that was supposed to be there, was there. Even the spam was there.
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

    17,000 out of 350,000,000 is about .000049 % (minuscule) and it's now corrected (whatever the cause).
  • Is Microsoft just a server software company?

    It is easy to give Microsoft a pass for the recent Hotmail service outage and temporary data loss by saying only a tiny fraction of Hotmail users were affected. The problem isn't how many Hotmail users were affected. The problem is Microsoft's non-transparent response. A week has gone by and Microsoft still has not provided a plausible explanation for the service outage and temporary data loss. This begs the question as to whether or not they really understand what caused the problem. <br><br>Back in September 2009 Google's Gmail experienced a 100-minute service outage when scheduled server maintenance triggered a series of router request overloads. Google's VP for engineering and site reliability put out a detailed explanation of what happened in the official Gmail blog the day it happened.<br><br>What can we learn by the responses put forward by Microsoft and Google? Microsoft responded to the problem like a server software company, which it has been for most of its existence. Google responded like a SaaS provider who understands that its reputation could easily be damaged by not promptly identifying and reporting the problem in a transparent manner. <br><br>Will Microsoft be better able to identify and transparently explain problems when Office 365 is brought on-line later this year when customers are paying up to $24/user/month? We shall see.
  • Hotmail disappeared....

    Nope still broken
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back
  • RE: Microsoft: Missing Hotmail e-mails are back

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