Skype blames Windows Update for 48-hour outage

Skype is pointing the finger at Windows Update for a critical system crash that wiped out the VoIP service for two days. Previously they had reported that the outage was to do with its own software.

In a statement posted on the company's support page, the company claims: "The disruption was initiated by a massive restart of our user's computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine software update." This is presumably the Windows updates that were sent out on Patch Tuesday last week, which required the PC to be restarted.

"The abnormally high number of restarts affected Skype's network resources," the company adds. "This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact."

Skype, which hasn't suffered serious problems with Windows Update before, says its normal failsafes proved ineffective. "Normally Skype's peer-to-peer network has an inbuilt ability to self-heal, however, this event revealed a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm which prevented the self-healing function from working quickly. Regrettably, as a result of this disruption, Skype was unavailable to the majority of its users for approximately two days."

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I would like to take this opportunity to blame the entire downfall of society on Windows Update. :suspicious:

why isolate it down to windows update, i think it's all Microsofts fault, hmm what else can we blame MS for, world hunger, for some wierd adn crazy reason it is all MS fault there are hungry people in this world

I can't believe Skype blames Microsoft for releasing "updates", that unfortunately required a "Reboot". It's skype's bug; it's skype's fault.

How can you blame WU for this? Everyone makes it sound like all MS users are synced with the update server in such a way that as soon as the patch is released, it's installed and rebooted instantly. And, on top of that, ALL computers have the same startup speed, ALL users are set to autologin/run skype as a background service without being logged on, and all are automatically connected via a home router without needing to dialin or anything...right, it was the home users who killed the network.

Sounds like an awesome business model.

What a cool outage. It's odd though that Microsoft's servers can manage to send 30+Mb of files to all these PC's yet Skype's small login request data can bring the network to a halt.

How is it odd? Microsoft isn't trying to establish a p2p mesh through WU. Just a plain-jane download. Also, Microsoft is well aware how their servers get pounded by the scheduled monthly update needs, and has a buffer (Akamai, I believe) that handles the front end load distribution.

Skype was not as well prepared. They had a software issue that made this WU (for some unknown reason) affect them adversely. The root cause was a Skype software issue, triggered by the sudden inrush of near-simultaneous reboots/re-logins that broke their mesh and wasn't able to heal it like it should have.

First thing I do these days with a machine, either at work or home, is to disable the automatic installation of Windows updates. There's nothing more annoying then setting off some testcases and coming back the next morning to find out the damn machine rebooted in the middle of everything.

Nice misleading title. They're merely saying that massive post-WU/MU client re-boots triggered a bug within their own systems. I don't see how you can call that shifting the blame.

It's really all about Skype's I.T. guys dropping the ball.

Most every patch from MS says you MAY be required to restart your computer and Skype should have been prepared for that possibility. It wasn't Microsoft that had them apply the patches to all their systems at once.

Had they applied it to one machine at a time, let that machine reboot and get up and running, then repeat with the next machine and so on, there would have likely been no outage at all.

Great software, but sloppy and lazy back-end support.

These were client PCs. That's "home users" to you and I. I doubt that Skype had control over when they rebooted.

Yes, there was a problem in Skype's client that reacted poorly to this update (yet was fine for the previous Windows Updates).

I would expect now that they found about this bug, they will have a new client available for update.

markjensen said,
These were client PCs. That's "home users" to you and I. I doubt that Skype had control over when they rebooted.

Yes, there was a problem in Skype's client that reacted poorly to this update (yet was fine for the previous Windows Updates).

I would expect now that they found about this bug, they will have a new client available for update.

i agree with all your comments but must say, i really doubt this was caused by a lot of people rebooting cause an MS update, seriously, i just can't believe that crap

You could say that about every Windows patch that causes a problem. Or about a Linux patch that causes a problem. Or about any application that is updated, but still has a bug.

As mentioned by someone earlier in these comments, Skype works on a p2p network, so the client peers are pretty much doing all the work. However, for some reason (not specified in the article) this particular Windows update prevented their normal quick network healing from working properly. Combined with the number of rebooted computers, the p2p network apparently didn't have enough valid connections to provide the continuity needed.

While it was their client application that had the bug, the "update" you speak of was not a Skype update, so they didn't control or test the WU before Microsoft released it.

ah shoot sorry clicked edit instead of reply! -neufuse

I didn't know how Skype worked, never used it... but it just seemed like they should of tested the patches before MS made them public, all they have to do is tell MS to give them the pre-release patches for their testing before release... MS gives us patches all the time before release so we can test our software against it that we write...

If you had properly read the article you'd realize your comments are pointless to this discussion. There was no one update that caused a conflict with Skype, it was the fact that 6 million users were trying to reconnect to the already fragmented network basically simultaneously because their computers were rebooted by automatic updates.

first comment - ummm are you serious, i hope you are not thinking that MS is in the wrong, the issue is notihgn to do with any specific MS update it was with the fact a lot of people rebooted at the same time (so they say). You really need to read the articel before posting, you are not doing yourself any favours.

second comment - read the damn article please. your continued ignorance of this issue is really annoying. THE ISSUE IS THEY COULD NOT HANDLE A WHOLE BUNCH OF REBOOOTS AT THE SAME TIME and that is it, it is not MS fault, nomatter how much testing was done on any specific update this issue woudl not have appeared, it is the rebooting that caused it

mark jenson - as i said above there is no specific windows update that caused this, it was a bug in skype that caused it to not start back up properly, i wish all you people would get over this being an mS issue, this issue is skypes and skypes only

Gotta fully agree with you on this...
Windows Update was the cause of the crash but at the end of the day it was fault in Skype itself that crashed it...

kouhii00 said,
i blame the title of this article

lol, i blame my mate john who knew this might have happened but forgot to tell skype. you just can't get the staff these days...

Nobody who has a decent amount of experience with Windows Update leaves their settings to automatically apply them (which includes a reboot when necessary.)

Not MS's fault Skype's people weren't aware of this.

So then why does Microsoft have the Windows Update system automatically apply patches by default??? It is not the experienced users that are at fault, it is the millions of amateurs out there that are to blame! I am sure Microsoft knows this and they could at least make the windows update default to downloading but not installing automatically...

obsolete_power said,
So then why does Microsoft have the Windows Update system automatically apply patches by default??? It is not the experienced users that are at fault, it is the millions of amateurs out there that are to blame! I am sure Microsoft knows this and they could at least make the windows update default to downloading but not installing automatically...
most computer analphabets wouldn't install them

obsolete_power said,
So then why does Microsoft have the Windows Update system automatically apply patches by default??? It is not the experienced users that are at fault, it is the millions of amateurs out there that are to blame! I am sure Microsoft knows this and they could at least make the windows update default to downloading but not installing automatically...

Microsoft is touting security these days, so what's more secure: 1) Automatic install of updates to ensure the system security remains as intact as possible?, or 2) Just download the updates and wait for user intervention leaving the system insecure.

Common sense tells them to do option 1.

Thing is, if it were the other way round and option 2 was default, you would still have people complaining that the updates aren't installing automagically.

nunjabusiness said,
Nobody who has a decent amount of experience with Windows Update leaves their settings to automatically apply them (which includes a reboot when necessary.)

Not MS's fault Skype's people weren't aware of this.

Decent amount of experience?
I guess it is probably a displeasure experience:


"Some examples...One person’s Windows Media Center Edition system was rebooted while they were watching their favorite show on TV. Another person, who uses their laptop as an alarm clock when they travel, slept in because they system was rebooted and the alarm clock application didn’t restart. Another person said they were working on a Word doc and went to the restroom only to return to find their system rebooted and the Word doc gone (lucky it is so easy to recover Word docs)"


http://blogs.msdn.com/tim_rains/archive/20.../15/257877.aspx


Talking about editing registry to disable automatic reboot of your computer.
Yeah, Microsoft is a very very good company that do not do stupid thing like this.

obsolete_power said,
So then why does Microsoft have the Windows Update system automatically apply patches by default??? It is not the experienced users that are at fault, it is the millions of amateurs out there that are to blame! I am sure Microsoft knows this and they could at least make the windows update default to downloading but not installing automatically...

then we get back to the old issues of idiots never updating their machines, seriously stop baggin windows update it works and it works well, this issue is skypes

ALUOp said,

Decent amount of experience?
I guess it is probably a displeasure experience:


"Some examples...One person’s Windows Media Center Edition system was rebooted while they were watching their favorite show on TV. Another person, who uses their laptop as an alarm clock when they travel, slept in because they system was rebooted and the alarm clock application didn’t restart. Another person said they were working on a Word doc and went to the restroom only to return to find their system rebooted and the Word doc gone (lucky it is so easy to recover Word docs)"


http://blogs.msdn.com/tim_rains/archive/20.../15/257877.aspx

Talking about editing registry to disable automatic reboot of your computer.
Yeah, Microsoft is a very very good company that do not do stupid thing like this.

as i said and everyone elese has said, windwos update is completely customizable as to how and when updates are applied, and P.S it as an alarm clock is an idiot, what ifd the power fails for a few hours, etc etc, at very least they shoudl havbe it as a service so if the machine goes down it will strart up when the puter starts, also you do not have to adjust it in the registry all that stuff is configurable using group policyn a lot of it using the winodws update GUI

I HATE the way WindowsUpdate will keep trying to restart itself after certain updates and there's nothing you can do about it (other than not clicking the Restart Later button... then it just waits there but even still it eventually restarts). I feel for them because I know how infuriating it can be. Microsoft needs to improve the way it patches Windows because at the moment it is just pathetic.

**News Flash** Microsoft adds new feature to Windows Update that disables the auto-install of updates, but informs the user when updates are ready and allows the user to choose when to install them. **News Flash**

Oh, wait.....??!

theyarecomingforyou said,
I HATE the way WindowsUpdate will keep trying to restart itself after certain updates and there's nothing you can do about it (other than not clicking the Restart Later button... then it just waits there but even still it eventually restarts). I feel for them because I know how infuriating it can be. Microsoft needs to improve the way it patches Windows because at the moment it is just pathetic.

There's actually another way as well: stop the Automatic Update Service in the Services panel (stop not disable) - it'll stop bugging you every 20 minutes or so (which frankly is VERY annoying)

there a a million different ways you can do auto updates. generally i don't run the updates until i am ready or just run them on shutdown.

The MS bashers come out to play, the issue is SKYPES and SKYPEs only, windows update has been goign for years updating as needed, all of sudden skype reckons it crashed their network and windwos update gets the blame and a whole bunch of people bagging it out.

personally i use WSUS and i LUV it, saves me a whole lot of worry updating machines etc

I've been there. Left my computer running overnight completing a task, and when I came to it in the morning, it had rebooted, all by itself. Needless to say, I was ****ed. That was when I disabled the auto installation of updates.

That's partially exactly why I disable anything "auto" on ANY program.

Have to agree that this is a pretty limp dick excuse though.

That why they have a second choice on Automatic Updates:

Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.

XerXis said,
man, that's the lamest excuse ever, just admit your servers couldn't handle your userbase :D

Their servers are not supposed to handle the userbase so you know..

XerXis said,
man, that's the lamest excuse ever, just admit your servers couldn't handle your userbase :D

There are no servers nob-head. It's P2P and once you lose huge swathes of the P2P network then it's bound to have problems then add to that 6million odd people trying to reconnect and the problem can get worse before it gets better.

It was never Skypes own systems themselves, but a flaw in the client that was not know about and never tested in such a large real life scenario. Now that it's fixed it should not happen again. Not bad for a network that's been running non-stop for 3+ years. When was the last time your own telco lasted that long!

@Taomyn

You won't gain much respect by name calling... anyway, it seems that have centralised authentication servers for when you login to skype.

Taomyn said,

There are no servers nob-head. It's P2P and once you lose huge swathes of the P2P network then it's bound to have problems then add to that 6million odd people trying to reconnect and the problem can get worse before it gets better.

It was never Skypes own systems themselves, but a flaw in the client that was not know about and never tested in such a large real life scenario. Now that it's fixed it should not happen again. Not bad for a network that's been running non-stop for 3+ years. When was the last time your own telco lasted that long!

of course they have servers, where else would they keep the userdata, think before you post and call me names.

Taomyn said,

There are no servers nob-head. It's P2P and once you lose huge swathes of the P2P network then it's bound to have problems then add to that 6million odd people trying to reconnect and the problem can get worse before it gets better.

It was never Skypes own systems themselves, but a flaw in the client that was not know about and never tested in such a large real life scenario. Now that it's fixed it should not happen again. Not bad for a network that's been running non-stop for 3+ years. When was the last time your own telco lasted that long!

LOAD OF BS, 6 million people do not all run windows update at the same time and reboot at he same time, law of averages (we all iknow that one), law of idiots (most idiots don't update) adn law of updates (most useers update when they feel like it)

Foub said,
Did you read the entire posting? They said that it had exposed a bug in their software.

The summary above makes it seem like they were blaming the Microsoft Update for the problem. I can forgive the original poster for making the same assumption. I mean, I'm fairly certain this isn't the first time Microsoft has released an update that requires a reboot.

TCLN Ryster said,

The summary above makes it seem like they were blaming the Microsoft Update for the problem. I can forgive the original poster for making the same assumption. I mean, I'm fairly certain this isn't the first time Microsoft has released an update that requires a reboot.


Or you can forgive him cause he'll ban you :P

It's Skype's fault, but I can see where a ton of reboots from people that would have been in the p2p network would have brought things down.

Neobond said,
Talk about shifting the blame :P
Skype isn't shifting the blame on anyone. Windows Update indirectly triggered an "unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm".

Pip'

nice attempt at shifting the blame, but seriously, lots of people running windows update at the exact same time, and all rebooting at the same time, this sounds like so much of a load of rubbish, i find it virtually impossible to believe, and basically with time zones and stuff set up how they are, the windows updates get downloaded at different times all over the world, if it was a case of a whole bunch of poeple connecting at once then they would get this type of issue every day as people get to work all over the world and boot up there machines at aboutthe same time. the way windows update works in itself means this is crap, i.e. it does not go of and start a mass download of and reboot of computers at the same time, it would take MS servers down. exposed an issue, more likely skype is trying to make it seem it is not all their fault and big and ugly enough to bare some of the brunt.