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Microsoft 'maintenance' blocks Hotmail

Some paying customers affected

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A growing number of Hotmail users are unable to access their email accounts.

Complaints from Hotmailers have been piling up in Microsoft's Windows Live support portal since at least January 3.

It's not just the cheapo, freebie version used by millions of Hotmail fans that's in trouble. Those forking out $19.95 a year for Hotmail Plus are also blocked.

People are naturally getting angry, with some unable to access their accounts for up to four days.

"Hotmail is a bag of shite," said one Hotmailer who has been blocked from his account for four days. "Why do you suck???," unloaded another.

Just as Microsoft was telling some users it has solved their problem, others have popped up to complain that they've also been denied access to their account.

A Microsoft spokesperson said there was "not any sort of widespread issue" and advised people to contact the Windows Live support site.

Users say they've been receiving messages where Microsoft tells them it is performing maintenance "to improve the service", while also apologizing for the problem.

But it seems that not even Microsoft's techies are confident that "maintenance" is the root cause. Microsoft told Hotmail one user, ShyloFT, that it was "possible" that maintenance was done on his account.

Also, it appears the problem could be an ongoing bug in Hotmail's software or servers. NOTTELLINGYOU, who told Microsoft it sucked, said the problem keeps happening on a regular basis and this is not a one off.

"Someone please explain to me why ever few weeks I [sic] unable to log into my email for hours ad a time?????????????? The [sic] crap gets old. Figure out your problems or update your servers so it can support your customers. FIX THE PROBLEM."

This is the second major Hotmail problem since December 30, when email belonging to nearly 20,000 users simply disappeared. It's not clear whether the two incidents are connected.

Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows Live Chris Jones blamed the loss of Hotmailers' messages on "mailbox load balancing between servers", but Jones didn't provide details. He signed off with a canned corporate promise to fully investigate the cause, to take steps to prevent this from happening again, and so on and so forth.

Thanks to Reg reader Tim who tipped us off to the problem. ®

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