back to article Oh my Word... Microsoft Office 365 unlatched after morning lockout

Users of Microsoft's Office365 cloud productivity suite struggled to log in today. A handful of reports on downdetector.com identified login, server connection and Outlook errors in the past 24 hours. In a tweet, Office 365 Status admitted: We’re investigating reports of users unable to log in to the Office365 service. An …

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  1. JakeMS Silver badge
    Joke

    Direct quote from Microsoft:

    Microsoft Office 365 now includes Office 2016 and gives you the full Office experience. With access to the latest Office applications as well as other cloud-based productivity services, whether you need Office for home, school, or business, there is an Office 365 plan to meet your needs.

    What if my need is to have it available 24x7x365?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your needs are being met but you forgot the safeword

      Also, what would journalists do if they didn't have Twitter to quote.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        What would journalists do if they didn't have Twitter to quote?

        Reach out to ring people up for quotes.

        The ability of Twitter to kick businesses into action almost makes it worth having an account. Almost.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What would journalists do if they didn't have Twitter to quote?

          The ability of Twitter to kick businesses into action almost makes it worth having an account. Almost.

          Started a Twitter account. Locked after 5 minutes demanding my mobile number "for my safety" or whatever excuse was going that day like all the other leeches out there (FB, Google, LinkedIn etc etc ad infinitum).

          Haven't bothered since :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You need it for just under 7 years ?

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      What if my need is to have it available 24x7x365?

      Erm you download the software to your computer. Then it's all available even if you are unable to log-in to MS for any reason.

      I've not yet had a noticeable problem with it. In that I've never not been able to log-in when I've tried to, and had no drop outs in connectivity with the remote Exchage server that have been long enough to notice. Been on it for 3 years now.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Erm you download the software to your computer. Then it's all available even if you are unable to log-in to MS for any reason."

        What did people do before there were online services? Oh, just what you said (substitute "stick a disk in the drive" for "download"). So just what has been gained by going online/to cloud?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "So just what has been gained by going online/to cloud?"

          You don't have to do anything to make all of your data public. Only, you don't know exactly when that will be.

        2. HandleAlreadyTaken

          > So just what has been gained by going online/to cloud?

          Well, there is this thing called "the web" now; you can actually get to your data from other computers than your main machine! If you can believe it, I once went to a coffee shop IN JAPAN and I didn't have to fly my large tower PC over at all! I used a small laptop connected to the "cloud"! And, get this, I didn't even have to find a power outlet, I could do it all FROM THE LAPTOP's BATTERY!

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Well, there is this thing called "the web" now; you can actually get to your data from other computers than your main machine!"

            Oddly enough I've never found this a problem, at least not since 8" floppies replaced punched cards (but with punched cards I only ever had access to one machine). Ever since then portable media have got smaller physically, larger in capacity and, on the whole, faster.

            1. dbannon

              re: Oh my Word... Microsoft Office 365 unlatched after morning lockout

              Oddly enough I've never found this a problem, at least not since 8" floppies..."

              In my experience, Microsoft users often don't seem to know where they have saved their work to. They just 'save' and expect it to be there when they return. The ins and out of a USB drive (or your floppies) is just a bit too hard. And MS users rarely seem to unmount before grabbing the USB drive.

              I know there are exceptions but I have observed this characteristic in otherwise very competent computer users.

              So, maybe cloud is a real need ....

          2. KorndogDev

            "you can actually get to your data from other computers than your main machine!"

            I don't trust other computers.

        3. Brenclarke

          What is gained is mobility. I.e. do your work on any device / browser (well, kinda) or use the full versions when you you need to.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What is gained is mobility. I.e. do your work on any device / browser (well, kinda) or use the full versions when you you need to.

            Oddly, I'm doing that without any cloudy services with ordinary bog standard IMAP/SMTP/caldav/carddav services (the stuff that Microsoft is not very keen to support because they're like non-Microsoft, fully RFC compliant standards).

        4. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          " So just what has been gained by going online/to cloud?"

          You now need a broadband connection, with associated costs, to access your own documents.

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Except even office 2016 doesn't work 100% of the time. That Click-to-run feature sometimes goes wrong and office 2016 is quite capable of locking you out all by itself, without help from Microsoft's crashing server infrastructure.

    4. Scott 29

      crush the competition

      We're going to crush Alphabet, just crush them. Now where did that PowerPoint sleestack go to?

    5. TheVogon Silver badge

      "What if my need is to have it available 24x7x365?"

      Then you need to fork out on your own 2 datacentre setup with full resilience / no single point of failure - and that won't come cheaply...

      O365 is targeted at 99.9% availability type uses which equates to circa 45 minutes a month of downtime.

      In practice O365 usually achieves 99.99% on a quarterly basis- see https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-trust-center-operations

      1. Dominion

        Then you need to fork out on your own 2 datacentre setup with full resilience / no single point of failure - and that won't come cheaply...

        You forgot he also needs a PC with dual NICs and power supplies, multiple switches, mirrored or RAID HDs, hot swappable memory and CPUs, diverse power and network links into his office, onsite UPS and generator.. All completely acheiveable, but pretty expensive for that 0.000001% of the time where it's needed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "O365 is targeted at 99.9% availability type uses which equates to circa 45 minutes a month of downtime."

        To be fair, and I prefer Google G Suite over O365 for a variety of reasons, there is a difference between an SLA and a marketing blurb. People see three nines and get concerned because EMC, NetApp or whoever tells them five nines as a matter of course. These cloud providers are offering an SLA though, not a marketing statement. If O365 goes down more than three nines, presumably, they owe you credit on account or cash for the downtime. They actually need to hit that number or pay. If an on prem hardware provider tells you five nines and they don't hit it... at most you get an apology. Really apples and oranges.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          To be fair, and I prefer Google G Suite over O365 for a variety of reasons, there is a difference between an SLA and a marketing blurb.

          Not THAT big, they're both rather privacy impaired..

          1. Roq D. Kasba

            Three nines, five nines, bunch of nines...

            The only people who seriously deserve to discuss "five nines" uptime are people prepared to pay for massive redundancy required. Five nines is one hour downtime per DECADE. Some shitty line of business reporting app used a few hours a month does not require that level of availability. It shows cowardsly/lazy specifications when "two nines best efforts during core business hours" is what they really want to pay for.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Three nines, five nines, bunch of nines...

              The only people who seriously deserve to discuss "five nines" uptime are people prepared to pay for massive redundancy required. Five nines is one hour downtime per DECADE

              Exactly. If I were Microsoft, I'd change two things:

              1 - move back to polling on, say, a 5 min rota (lose the persistent connection, that's only good for messaging IMHO);

              2 - redesign the software so it permits one cycle to fail silently (i.e. when it fails to poll or send after 5 min, wait another 5 minutes and if things still don't work flag a problem.

              (note: replace "5 min" with your own preferred time, I use 30 minutes for mobile use)

              The software is installed locally anyway so you don't need to keep that connection online, and this approach gives you a truckload of margin to cycle services to backup resources if they have a problem. There are services that need 5 nines, but it would be ridiculous and frankly irresponsible overkill for email and office apps provisioning.

    6. Borg.King
      Facepalm

      for 24x365 support, you should sign up for Office420.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More like Office358

    8. OnlyMee

      Well you just install it locally right?

      I use both cloud version and a local version of Office if you have a subscription you can also install it locally. Note that you need to do a little setup in order to also have/save your files or some of them locally.

      I also use Gmail or G-Suite like they call it in some client projects. No local version available but have to give it to Google. The platform has never been unavailable or even experiences small performance degradation that I would have noticed.

      The bottom line is both platforms do what it says on the tin and most users know how to use them. They use exchange at work but mostly Gmail privately. Excel is still better than sheets, but G-Suite is cheaper if you don't have complex needs.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    Please explain to me ...

    how running an important application ''out in the cloud'' is better than running on your own machines ? It is not just subject to failures of the cloud provider, but also vulnerable to that man who goes round the country in a JCB randomly digging up network/broadband cables. Not to mention the privacy/security aspects (who does the cloud provider share your data with ?)

    OK: you can save a bit by not employing a sysadmin or bothering to do your own backups, but how much does it cost to not be able to do anything for 1/2 a day (or more) ?

    BTW: this is NOT a flame against Microsoft, but any vital cloud based service.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      My thinking entirely.

      On the face of it there's a lot to like about cloud but the availability issue is what puts me off. You're entirely at the mercy of a 3rd party to make something available, and when they let you down you're left completely bereft.

      1. Haku

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        "and when they let you down you're left completely bereft."

        Exactly.

        I once had cloud storage that was part of a another online package I was paying for, I never used it to store anything vital. Then one day they announced the storage was being discontinued in x weeks so I better download any important files.

        So even when you're paying for it, they can still take it away, which is why when I learned I had 50GB cloud storage with my BT Infinity 2 package I didn't even bother to figure out how to access it.

        Apparently that storage has increased to 500GB, I'd prefer they give me an actual 500GB HDD.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        "You're entirely at the mercy of a 3rd party to make something available, and when they let you down you're left completely bereft."

        Is that not the case with on prem? If there is some issue, a bug, with Exchange or other commercial software that is running on prem that knocks the system down, you are on the phone with the vendor trying to get them to fix it. Same as cloud.

      3. Amorous Cowherder
        Unhappy

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        "You're entirely at the mercy of a 3rd party to make something available, and when they let you down you're left completely bereft."

        Aren't you still at the mercy of a person or person(s) you employ yourself at your company when it goes tits up? The only difference is that you local bods have to know their stuff as they will have limited support out of hours ( dependent upon service agreement contracts ) at least with the cloud offerings you get a company that's got a lot more at stake, more customers complaining and bad PR ramping up all over the world, that's enough to get the best and brightest of the backline support out of bed at 2am to fix a worldwide problem.

        Don't get me wrong, while I like cloud offerings and I think they're good for some tasks, other stuff should only be done in-house by dedicated staff. Sadly the days of the IT technical bod at smaller shops is limited. Nearly 30 years as sys admin/DBA and I'm looking to shore up my knowledge with non-IT related skillsets, 'cos I'll need an escape plan when all the PHBs finally send our jobs out into the cloud, and it's not as far away as you think.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      Is having services outsourced rather than in-house actually more problematic though, or is it simply that the failure of a large 'cloud provider' is more noticeable, likely affects more people, when it does go tits-up?

      I honestly don't know. I'm torn between gut feelings of 'when it goes wrong it will go badly wrong' but is probably less likely to. Those 'handling my stuff' are likely to be much more resilient against random JCBs and other issues than I am.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        "Is having services outsourced rather than in-house actually more problematic though, or is it simply that the failure of a large 'cloud provider' is more noticeable, likely affects more people, when it does go tits-up?"

        Yes. It's the difference between a car crash and a plane crash. One not only affects many more people, but is far more publicly visible and so requires far higher safety standards to offset the likelihood of the crash and retain the confidence of the users.

        Same applies to self driving cars. 33,000 people die every year in the USA in car crashes, but every slightest bump of a self-driving car gets well reported while most manually driven car crashes barely get a mention outside the local media.

        The difference is in who is in control and who takes the blame/can be sued.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        Is having services outsourced rather than in-house actually more problematic though

        Well - the theory is that you outsource the risk to other people and hence don't have to pay the costs involved.

        However, the end-users of the service don't care - all they care about is that they can't use a service and you *can't* fix it. So, you get the blame, even if it's not actually your fault. And Finance (who want to use revenue income rather than capital) will still demand exactly the same service as before, even though they have cut your budget and headcount.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      I think £3 a month gets you online Office only. Where you get a webmail client but not a domain or Exchange.

      About £15 a month gets you Office licenses, so you can install on up to 5 computers, plus an Exchange server you can hook up to your own domain. For us, it worked out cheaper than the server we replaced it with - and the uptime has been better as well. But we're too small to have an IT department, so that was outsourced to a local company instead.

      As you say, an online only office suite seems stupid. You can't use it on a train or on a plane. You can't use it on a bus, oh what a fuss. You can't use it if the net goes off or MS' servers cough. And if their datacentre's down you can but frown. I do not like green cloud and eggs.

    4. AlanT

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      Realtalk, because for at least most small and medium businesses, MS is much much better at running exchange servers than an in-house resource. Outages happen (rarely, IME), but the downtime is generally less overall than you get if you do it yourself. I haven't missed babysitting Exchange even a tiny bit over the last few years.

    5. Blitheringeejit
      Holmes

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      "Please explain to me ... how running an important application ''out in the cloud'' is better than running on your own machines ?"

      It's better because it makes a larger profit margin for Microsoft than a one-off charge for a software licence you can use for as long as you can keep it running. And for Google and Amazon, it's better because they can sell you something which they couldn't sell you before.

      If you're asking what the benefit is *to you*, you're asking the wrong question. People don't develop software or web services your benefit.

      1. Wade Burchette

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        "If you're asking what the benefit is *to you*, you're asking the wrong question."

        Ergo, the abomination that is Windows 10.

    6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      @Alian Williams - Keeping key software and files under one's actual control is best but often nominally more expensive than the cloud. MBAs and bean counters (aka morons) only look at the quotes and never ask any reasonable what ifs.

    7. Dominion

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      Alain,

      Are we talking a single application on a single PC or a large enterprise with multiple offices and their own data centre?

      People keep shouting about "cloud is great", or "cloud is hopeless" without any kind of context as to what it is they are trying to replace, or what the "cloud" is that they are looking to replace it with.

      1. KorndogDev

        Re: Please explain to me ...

        The cloud is simply a computer that belongs to someone else. Nothing more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Please explain to me ...

          It could be like a computer that belongs to someone else and nothing more... if you are running at Amazon, Google scale and have their level of automation and have large enough volumes where you tell Intel the price that you are willing to pay and if they don't like it, you'll buy a fab and create your own microprocessors.

    8. Protocol0

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      Office365 sits on Microsoft's Azure data centers. Your services and data are locally and geographically replicated. Not only that if your tenant is having a problem it may only affect a small portion of your users. User accounts shift from server to server and not everyone will ever be on the same server. So if one person is having a issue the person next to them might be fine because they are on a different server. What does that mean though? Your subscription pays for the hardware, licenses and the MICROSOFT engineers to maintain it. What does that mean to you? It means not having to replace hardware your exchange sits on.. ever... Security including SSL (encryption) certificates, firewalls, disk encryption, spam/virus/malware filters w/ their Machine Learning algorithms, maintained by Microsoft. Service Level Agreement (SLA) is the peace of mind that is financially backed by a 99.99% up time 24x7x365. Support: unlimited customer support for all Microsoft products that touch Office365. Software subscribed through Office365 is always updated to the latest version. no more licensing headaches or software assurance gambles.

      Connections between the Azure data centers are dedicated internal infrastructure. Meaning Microsoft has ran their own fiber network between each data center. They actually own submarines for getting across the oceans.

      Microsoft currently has 34 data centers world wide (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/regions/) 6 of which are in the UK, Eur, Ger regions and 2 more going up in France.

      The comment "How much does it cost to not be able to do anything for a half day or MORE?" You cant think of anything you would rather be doing? The cost of babysitting a simple backup is too great no matter the number. Humans time on this earth is finite and spending a half day for a back up that is not going to matter in 6 months to a year is never a good use of time. Backups should always be automated no matter the solution.

      This article could be considered click bait to an IT admin. You do not have 100's of thousands of servers running without having problems at any given point of time. Microsoft is not perfect but they do all they can to mitigate any issue from impacting the customer. because they are not perfect this is also why they ask for .01% of downtime which equates to 45 minutes out of the 43,800 in a month. 45 minutes of downtime is still considerably less then spending half your day doing a backup.

      I do not work for Microsoft but I have worked for some of their gold partners for the last 3 years supporting Office 365 and Azure services.

      Here is a article that lets you know your data is handled in Office365: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Blog/What-Happens-to-My-Data-in-Office-365/ba-p/84059

      I hope this answers some of your questions.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      MSFT is just bad at hyper scale. If you use Google or Amazon, they know what they are doing and have much better uptime metrics. Per Cloud Harmony. All cloud providers are not the same.

      Also, if the internet goes out, any modern business is properly down... Whether they have it in cloud or on prem. So kind of a moot point if you can't email or interact with people outside the four walls.

      In general, it's the same question as "why would I buy electric service from a utility when I can have greater control with a generator in my back yard?"

      A number of reasons. Although the electric service may go out on rare occasions, it is likely to go out far more often with your on prem generator. The cost of a generator is more than the aggregated costs of electricity service billed monthly. If you need more electricity for a few days, you dont need to run out and buy a larger generator and then have it running at

      less than full capacity the rest of the time. Maintaining a generator is a hassle.

    10. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: Please explain to me ...

      >>how running an important application ''out in the cloud'' is better than running on your own machines ?<<

      Totally depends how you measure "better" - cheaper, more accessible, lower system maintenance, all good points, compromised availability, security risks downsides.

      If something is truly that important you do it in-house, and if it's really, really important you do it redundantly, replicated across multiple sites, paying for dedicated lines and real 24/7 dedicated support...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Works at our office just fine today. I guess if I ever have trouble, I'll tweet about it and El Reg can run a nasty headline. Kind of a useful hammer to hit MS with.

  4. m0rt Silver badge

    Ken 'e' logins

    They took their customer goodwill right into the Danger Zone.

    Archer is proud of you, Andrew.

    Or even this.

  5. Ryan Clark

    One of my accounts got in a login loop this morning, but I have signed into several other tenants and accounts today without issue. None of the clients I support have reported anything to us.

  6. DagD

    I love the soft fluffy cloud....

    ...BUT

    Everything doesn't belong in the cloud.

    Some people just gotta get burned to learn the flame is hot. Software as a Service? Great idea, until the cloud rains or there's a problem at your last mile, then it's

    Clouds in my coffee... Clouds in my coffee...

    Hide under your desk and wait for the phone calls to go away...

  7. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Windows

    Office 320 ?

    I think we are getting damn close to Office 320, and it is still June ... I have issues, quite random, but every other week, switching browser user agents is sometimes futile ... I would rather not touch ie/edge, I had to the other day because I "really" wanted to access something and it failed nevertheless... so ...

    I do not use Word online, though, tooo sloooooooooooow, I only have 100Mbit Internet, i5, SSD, 16Gb RAM, does not seem to be sufficient for MS' Internet-based word processor. I could use my i7, but I use that as a host for my VM's, headless, and I do not know what kind of bandwidth they expect, these days, the CPU/RAM might not be the bottleneck.

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