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Microsoft sees no silver lining in Sidekick server snafu

Danger, danger! High voltage!

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A major server outage at Microsoft's subsidiary firm Danger, which provides Sidekick data services to T-Mobile customers, has forced the company to admit that many of its users have lost personal information that was stored on the system.

T-Mobile published a miserable apology on Saturday, in which it said that Microsoft/Danger's most recent recovery assessment had been pretty dire.

"We must now inform you that personal information stored on your device - such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos - that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger," said T-Mobile.

The telecoms firm said Danger, which Microsoft bought in February 2008, hadn't called off the search team yet, but the likelihood of actually recovering any data now looks very slim.

T-Mobile said it would update customers later today about the cloud-based service cockup.

"We recognise the magnitude of this inconvenience," it said. "Our primary efforts have been focused on restoring our customers' personal content. We also are considering additional measures for those of you who have lost your content to help reinforce how valuable you are as a T-Mobile customer."

It didn't say what those measures might involve, or if customers can expect some form of compensation given the scale of disruption caused by the data loss, which happened about a week ago. T-Mobile had already offered some users a free month of service.

The Sidekick saga is extremely bad news for Microsoft. What makes it even more embarrassing for the vendor is that Redmond prides itself on not simply shoving everything into the cloud, instead punting its Software + Services strategy which means customers can store content online or on-site.

This technical snafu demonstrates the limitations even the likes of Microsoft, which inherited rather than overhauled the Danger tech, face when not putting redundancy in place to ensure that a simple server outage doesn't cripple an entire service in quite such spectacular fashion again. ®

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