Microsoft hit by second Office 365 email outage in five days

Microsoft hit by second Office 365 email outage in five days

Summary: For the second time this month, some Office 365 users in North America are experiencing email problems.


On November 13, some Microsoft Office 365 customers in North America were reporting (via Twitter and email) that they were experiencing email problems -- just like they were five days ago.

A Microsoft spokesperson provided the following update around 2 pm ET today:

"On Tuesday, Nov. 13, some customers served from our North America data centers are experiencing intermittent access to e-mail services. Customers are being updated regularly via our normal communication channels. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."

This tweet was posted shortly thereafter:




This isn't the first time this month some North American Office 365 users experienced downtime. Email issues hit North American users on November 8, as well.

It's not immediately clear what's causing today's issue or what Microsoft is doing to head off more email-centric Office 365 outages. I've asked and will update this post with any further details if and when I hear back.

The latest service issues with Office 365 hit the same day that Microsoft and Hewlett Packard are touting a big win for Microsoft's Office 365 for Government platform. The pair are moving 600,000 Veterans Affairs users to Office 365 under a five-year agreement announced back in July 2012. The contract is worth $36 million.

Office 365 is the Microsoft-cloud-hosted bundle of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. It competes with Google Apps/Docs. 

Microsoft is readying a number of new Office 365 packages and plans for introduction this month as part of its New Office/Office 2013 release.

Update: 6 pm ET on November 13. The Office 365 team tweeted that the issue has been resolved.


No word (still) from Microsoft about why this happened again or what the team is doing to head off email issues of this nature going forward.

Update No. 2 (November 14): Microsoft posted a blog entry detailing more about what caused the two outages. An antivirus issue caused the November 8 email issues, according to the post.  Yesterday's was due to a combination of maintenance, "network element" and load issues. The post also details steps Microsoft officials said they are taking to prevent these kinds of problems in the future.

A couple of folks commented at the end of the new post that they consider Microsoft's health dashboard to be inadequate for monitoring service status when outages occur. Microsoft has been using its Twitter account to provide status updates during the last few outages. 


Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Networking, Unified Comms


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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  • A bit off topic MJF, but

    what is your view on this:

    If true, it looks serious. I have always found Mr. Orlowski to be well informed and credible.
    • Nothing in there surprises me

      Don't think anything in that is controversial. Do you? Am I missing something? Seems like it's a story reflecting the current day Windows org -- at least what I know of it. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • It certainly gives the impression, ......

        which you implicitly seem to confirm, that MS's whole mobile strategy may still rest on a shaky foundation. If so, it may be getting very late, early.

        Thanks for responding.
      • Do you have a pending blog on that organization change?

        One that explores the underlying architectural currents, like are hinted at in the Register article, would be interesting.

        My prediction on that front is that MS will release a service pack (and fairly quickly) that restores the Start button, and makes the new Modern interface optional (for desktops, obviously). Then they have less dogmatism involved, facilitate more enterprise adoption - all while getting most, if not all, of the benefits of having the new desktop metaphor (Modern, i mean, which is in effect a new window manager and desktop).
  • Ouch

    We have 3 different complaints so far today from a worldwide user base of 300. I suspect more users are having the problem but have not noticed.

    From Microsoft:
    Nov 13, 2012 11:59 AM Restoring service Service should be restored for most customers right now. in the impacted forests. We continue to work on restoring service for all customers as quickly as possible.
  • Ouch...

    And this is why I'm reluctant to move away from my self-hosted services. Nothing is worse than not having access to your own data and not knowing why.

    At least when my systems go down, I can identify why. Although, admittedly I have less down time than anyone I know. I'm like the Chuck Norris of IT guys... I punch my servers in the storage array if they even THINK about failing. OK, OK, I'm joking... but I really do bribe them with memory upgrades every business quarter!
  • 600,000 new vets as users

    Wondering if it has anything to do scaling up with adding over a half a million new accounts.....
  • 600,000 new vets as users

    Wondering if it has anything to do scaling up with adding over a half a million new accounts..... We need more power Scottie.....
  • 600,000 new vets as users

    Wondering if it has anything to do scaling up with adding over a half a million new accounts..... We need more power Scottie.....
  • Rebranding?

    Maybe Microsoft should rebrand this service as Office 360 to better reflect its actual availability?

    That would also, rather handily, align with its gaming platform brand! (Although by the same criteria, the latter should actually be called Xbox 200.)
  • issues

    Office 365 cloud / hosting services have been down serveral times over the last years. No service is truly up 100%, but in our own datacenter, we are experincing less downtime than at those microsoft datacenters!

    IT Consultant, Outsourcing -
    Mikkel Nielsen