Microsoft’s Cloud Briefly Evaporates, Leaves Up To 365 Million Users Without Access For Four Hours

The first email hit TechCrunch’s tip line at 11:32 EDT. Others quickly followed saying the same thing: major Microsoft cloud services are down worldwide. Hotmail, Skydrive, and Microsoft’s recently launched Google Docs competitor, Office 365 were all unaccessable. Users took to twitter and our tip line to express their rage, but then approximately four hours after going offline, the services were restored with little explanation for their downtime from Microsoft.

Official Microsoft blogs and Twitter accounts were busy putting out the small public relations flare ups, but these things happen and there was little spokespersons could do but tell users to sit tight. Servers can go down. Databases can be wiped. Power lines can be cut.

Around 3:00 EST this morning services started working again. Microsoft announced via a Windows Live blog that the DNS servers were restored and most customers should see service restored within 30 minutes.

The company briefly explained on another blog that the outage was caused by the southern California power outage, which if you look at the downtimes, matches up rather well. However, that post was later pulled and Microsoft has yet to confirm that report. (screenshot courtesy of ITnews AU)

This happens to be the second time in less than a month that Office 365 went down. The last outage lasted 3 hours and prompted Microsoft to offer customers — you have to pay for Office 365 — a 25% discount for their trouble. No word on a discount this time around.

So just like that, at the start of the day for most of Europe, a major portion of Microsoft’s cloud services went offline and were restored a matter of hours later. Every online service sees downtime — even Google Docs — but this latest hit on Microsoft’s service is another setback primarily for its oh-so-important answer to Google Docs. Uptime is paramount to cloud services and Microsoft as of late hasn’t exactly proven it can provide a reliable services. Here’s hoping the rest of the year fares better for Office 365.