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Microsoft has been hit by twin problems: some of the company’s computers have been targeted by cyber attacks similar to those recently reported by Facebook and Apple, and – more seriously – its Windows Azure Web services and storage business suffered a 12-hour outage on Friday night/Saturday morning.

The Azure outage caused worldwide problems with customers’ storage, with every sub-region reporting service degradation, according to a Register Web report.

It turned out to be self-inflicted wound. A Microsoft spokesman said Azure went down because the company had failed to renew its Web security certification, a standard tool of online services.That brought indignation and scorn from some customers, especially on Microsoft forums. “This is unacceptable – I’m supposed to release an enterprise app on this platform?” wrote user MJFara.

Azure went down at 12:44pm California time Friday. An update at 1:30pm identified a problem with SSL transactions. A storage knockout then created a cascading series of failures in other crucial parts of Azure, eventually bringing down Xbox Live components as well.

Early Saturday morning the company said 99 percent of affected services had been brought back online. Perhaps somebody paid the bill.

  • On the hacking incident, a company executive said Microsoft had found a “small number” of staff PCs, including some in its Mac business unit, infected with malicious software, but there was no evidence that any customer data was affected.
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