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Microsoft experiences e-mail delays


February 1, 2001

Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn confirmed Thursday that the suburban Redmond-based software giant experienced outgoing e-mail delays in the week of Jan. 22. He said the delays occurred because a test lab inside Microsoft sent a large volume of e-mail to Microsoft's Internet mail gateways. The test "got a little bit out of control," he said.

The e-mails caused a roughly 600 percent increase in network traffic, causing a major backlog in outbound e-mail. Sohn said he did not know of any e-mails not reaching their destination.

Microsoft confirmed it had received complaints from employees saying outbound e-mail service was slow.

The e-mail delivery problems apparently occurred the same week hackers attacked equipment that directs Internet traffic, preventing many people from accessing Microsoft Web sites, including its home page, MSNBC.com and Hotmail.com. Earlier last week, the company experienced a 22-hour shutdown of the same equipment and blamed it on employee error.

The problems began shortly after Microsoft launched a $200 million advertising campaign touting the reliability of its software.

Rob Enderle, a research fellow with Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif., said having three technical glitches in a row creates a "serious marketing problem" for Microsoft and for products such as its e-mail system, Microsoft Exchange.

"When they have a problem like this, folks don't really know whether it's Microsoft Exchange or something else, but they do know it's Microsoft," Enderle said.

Sohn said the problems had nothing to do with Microsoft Exchange.

Analysts who follow the company said Microsoft should emerge from these technical difficulties unscathed.

"These things, they're a major inconvenience for users, but for Wall Street they don't have an impact," said Scott McAdams, president of McAdams Wright Ragen in Seattle.

McAdams said that, especially on Wall Street, people perceive online technology as still in its infancy and expect some glitches. When analysts look at the bottom line, he said, "this sort of thing doesn't even register."

© 2001 Associated Press, special to CNET News.com


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