The bug affected Hotmail, Windows Live, Xbox Live, Windows Messenger, and other Web sites and services that rely on users' Windows Live IDs for logins.
Microsoft has fixed a technical glitch that locked out thousands of users around the world from their Windows Live accounts, Hotmail e-mail, and other Microsoft online services, the company said.
"An issue began that has caused some consumers worldwide to experience difficulty logging in to their Windows Live ID accounts. This issue has since been resolved and normal operations have been restored to all customers," said Samantha McManus, Windows Live product manager, in an e-mail late Tuesday to InformationWeek.com sister site ChannelWeb.
Microsoft didn't disclose the nature of the bug, but reports indicate that in addition to Hotmail and Windows Live, it affected numerous Web services -- including Xbox Live online gaming and Microsoft's Windows Messenger instant messaging platform -- that rely on users' Windows Live IDs for logins.
The problem appeared to be global. Affected users posted messages on various Internet forums from countries ranging from Finland to Japan and Honduras in Central America.
"Our customers have come to expect a high level of service reliability in their experience with Windows Live, and Microsoft worked aggressively to resolve this unique problem as quickly as possible," said McManus.
The glitch also brought down a number of third-party services. Bell Canada's Sympatico e-mail service, which is hosted on Microsoft's MSN network, was knocked out for several hours, a spokesman told the Canadian Press wire service.
Hotmail was created in 1996 by a pair of programmers who sold the service to Microsoft a year later. The service was rebranded from MSN Hotmail to Windows Live Hotmail last year as Microsoft looked to unify its online services under a single brand.
Microsoft claims to have about 280 million Hotmail users.
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