Microsoft finally fixes Outlook.com issues; offers apology and explanation [Update]

It's been a bit of a rough week for some users of Microsoft's Outlook.com email service. The problems started on Wednesday as reports came that some people could not see their emails on the Outlook.com website. Microsoft confirmed these problems via its live status page, and the issues extended to the company's SkyDrive and People services as well.

These problems lasted for a few hours, but the People and SkyDrive issues were dealt with later that same day. The same went for people who wanted to view Outlook.com email on the web. However, Microsoft reported that some users were still experiencing problems with syncing their Outlook.com emails with mobile devices.

These problems extended into Thursday and Friday, but now Microsoft's live status page indicates that the Outlook.com syncing issues have now been resolved. The company also used its status history page to offer both an apology and a detailed explanation for what happened to Outlook.com this week.

Microsoft's statement said:

This incident was a result of a failure in a caching service that interfaces with devices using Exchange ActiveSync, including most smart phones. The failure caused these devices to receive an error and continuously try to connect to our service. This resulted in a flood of traffic that our services did not handle properly, with the effect that some customers were unable to access their Outlook.com email and unable to share their SkyDrive files via email.

In order to stabilize the overall email service, we temporarily blocked access via Exchange ActiveSync. This allowed us to restore access to Outlook.com via the web and restore the sharing features of SkyDrive. These parts of the service were fully stabilized within a few hours of the initial incident. A significant backlog of Exchange ActiveSync requests accumulated as we worked to stabilize access. To avoid another flood of traffic, we needed to restore access to Exchange ActiveSync slowly, which meant that some customers remained impacted for a longer period of time.

Microsoft said they have learned from this particular incident and have increased the network bandwidth in the system that was affected by the problems this week. Microsoft has also changed how error handling is accomplished for devices that use Exchange ActiveSync. Microsoft pledged to continued to monitor their systems and make more changes if needed.

The status history page ended with Microsoft saying, "We want to apologize to everyone who was affected by the outage, and we appreciate the patience you have shown us as we worked through the issues."

Update: Well it looks like those mobile sync issues with Outlook.com have popped up again. The live status page shows yet another notice that says, "A small percentage of mobile users may experience intermittent issues while syncing email."

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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