UK authorities investigating Microsoft's 99.9 percent cloud claim

Microsoft is being investigated over its 99.9 percent uptime claims for its Office 365 service, after a series of outages left users without email and communications.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

The UK's advertising agency is investigating Microsoft regarding its claims that the software giant "can guarantee 99.9 percent uptime" of its Office 365 cloud service.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) is the UK's independent regulator of advertising across all media, including marketing on websites and online spaces.

In another life, Microsoft's BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) was known for its outages. Reborn into Office 365, Microsoft had made it clear that the old was out and the new was in. The service has, however, suffered a number of outages since its inception, forcing the advertising watchdog to question the company's claims.

Though Microsoft is often quick to explain why outages occur, many have complained before that the company is not forthcoming with solutions during the downtime -- let alone reflecting downtime or outage issues in the service's dashboard or health status reports.

(Source: Office 365)

The ASA confirmed last week that it was "investigating" a complaint over "marketing communication on Microsoft's website", questioning whether the "99.9 percent uptime was misleading and could be substantiated".

Microsoft's promotional material for Office 365 says clearly:

"You can count on Microsoft, an industry leader in productivity, for reliability. Microsoft provides a financially-backed 99.9% uptime guarantee."

The ASA recently ruled in favour of Apple over Samsung to challenge which smartphone giant could call their respective phones the "world's thinnest smartphone", at least within British territory.

Already, from January 1st, Microsoft has not achieved 99.9 percent of uptime, which led the case to arise in the first place. Downtime of over 8.7 hours a year requires Microsoft to compensate customers, according to its service-level agreement.
How long it will take for the advertising agency to make its final judgement, it is not clear. Reports suggest that it could take weeks or longer, "depending on the complexity of the issues raised".

Microsoft has not responded to questions at the time of publication.


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