Microsoft's Hotmail Problems Persist in China

Microsoft’s Hotmail service was once again unreachable from Beijing on Thursday, extending an intermittent outage that has lasted for more than two weeks.

"I’m really angry," said one Chinese Hotmail user, who agreed to speak on the condition that her name not be used. Hotmail has been inaccessible for many Chinese users since the beginning of May. The specific cause of the outage has not been made public.

In one of two e-mails she received from Microsoft in response to a customer service request, the company said, "We’re sorry, recently MSN China has experienced temporary technical problems affecting a small number of users, including yourself." The statement did not disclose the nature of the problems or when they would be resolved.

Microsoft’s note wasn’t enough to satisfy this Hotmail user. Unable to access her e-mail account, she has switched to Google’s rival Gmail service, which has not experienced the same service disruption.

While Chinese users remained unable to reach the Hotmail Web site on Thursday, a message on MSN China’s support website said the service was functioning properly with no network problems. A Microsoft spokesman in Beijing referred comment on the matter to the company’s public relations agency.

"It is a technical issue at the carrier network level," said Brian Zhou, president of H-Line Ogilvy Communications. Microsoft is working with China Network Communications Group (China Netcom) and China Telecommunications, the country’s other fixed-line operator, to diagnose and resolve the problem, he said.

Attempts to access Hotmail.com from a residential Internet connection in Beijing timed out after reaching the backbone network of China Netcom.

A China Netcom spokeswoman in Beijing could not be reached for comment.

-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

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