MSN Messenger is back up for most users

After seven days of interrupted service, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Messenger chat service is back online for most of its customers who lost access to the service for nearly a week, the company said Monday.

Though the company posted a notice on its Web site saying the instant messaging (IM) service would be back online by Friday, MSN released an addendum to its notice Saturday, saying that most, but not all customers had full use of the free IM client.

On Monday afternoon, an MSN spokeswoman said the problem still wasn't completely fixed.

"As we have had to go to our third level of backup to restore the service and retrieve customer data, this process has taken longer than we have hoped, but we continue to make progress and expect all users to be able to access MSN Messenger soon," said MSN product manager Susan Lefko.

"We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers and appreciate their patience as we work around the clock to restore service as quickly as possible," Lefko said. "Since the cause of this issue was a sequence of extremely rare hardware failures, we have found it necessary to go to a third level of redundancy/backup, which takes longer to restore. As a result, getting MSN Messenger up and running for all users worldwide has taken longer than anyone would have hoped."

On Sunday, in an e-mail, one user in Chile said his service was still unavailable, and had been for a week.

Microsoft said the problem was a disk controller that failed on a database server, and then a backup controller had an error. The failures caused the service to go down for about a third of its users, some 12 million users whose accounts were stored on that server and its backup. Sometimes, users could access MSN Messenger, but they lost access to their buddy lists. The company has 36 million MSN Messenger users worldwide.

The buddy list information is still on the servers, and when access is restored, users will be able to connect to their buddy lists. MSN said it is unnecessary to build a new list.

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