Some users reporting Microsoft Office 365 access issues

Some Office 365 users are reporting problems accessing Exchange Online and Lync Online, two key components of Microsoft's hosted-app offering.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

A few days after launching its consumer-facing Office 365 offering, Microsoft is experiencing an Office 365 outage affecting some users in the U.S. and possibly elsewhere.


Some users began reporting around 8:30 a.m. ET via Twitter and the Office 365 Community Forums that they could not access their hosted Exchange mail and Lync unified communications offerings, which are hosted in Microsoft datacenters. They also said they were not getting  updated status information via the Office 365 health dashboard.

I asked Microsoft officials for an update as to what's happening around 10 a.m. ET on February 1. No word back so far.

As of 10:15 a.m. ET, I am seeing reports that some users are now able to access their Office 365 services. 

Some users (thanks @WithinRafael, @bschorr and @magrom) said they thought a problem with Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) -- which is the authentication mechanism for Office 365 and other Microsoft properties -- could be at fault.

Microsoft launched Office 365 Home Premium on January 29. But this version of Office 365 -- in spite of the name -- doesn't provide users with access to Microsoft-hosted Exchange, SharePoint and Lync, unlike the other Office 365 plans.

Microsoft isn't slated to make the updated versions of SharePoint Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online -- and the new Office 365 business plans incorporating these services -- widely available to new and existing customers until later this month. February 27 is considered the official launch date for the updated Office 365 small business, mid-size business and enterprise offerings.

Microsoft officials reiterated earlier this week that the company has been transitioning some of the existing Office 365 Enterprise users to the latest/updated version of Office 365 since late last fall.

For a good explanation of what Microsoft is launching and when in the Office 365 space, check out Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Aidan Finn's write-up on Office 365 "Office 2013."

Update (10:40 am ET): I am also seeing via Twitter reports of some users unable to access their Windows Intune and Outlook.com services, increasing public speculation that there's an Azure problem at the root of thes issues. I've also asked the Azure team for information as to what's going on. No word back yet.

Update (11:25 am ET): It's increasingly looking like Azure Active Directory authentication component is  could be -- at least in part -- what resulted in prolems across not just Office 365, but possibly also Windows Intune and Outlook.com. Identity services were down for about an hour, according to this Office 365 health dashboard snippet that my ZDNet colleague Ed bott shared with me: 


There's still no word from Microsoft's Office 365 or Azure teams on this, so we're all still really guessing as to what happened and what's being done to resolve the situation.

Update (12:25 pm ET): The @Office365 twitter account has posted a status update, saying that "routine maintenance" caused the "short term" issue. Here's the tweet:



Update (12:45 pm ET): Just noticed the Windows Azure team posted an update on their RSS feed, as well. Here's what they are saying:

Feb 1 2013 4:18PM We evaluated that a scheduled network configuration change is the root cause of the issue. The necessary repair steps have been successfully implemented and validated. Availability of Compute and Access Control 2.0 services has been restored in the affected sub-regions. The impact was largely mitigated as of 7:54AM PST and full restoration is confirmed as of 8:18AM PST. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our customers.


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