Windows Live ID issues continue – Transparency: 0, Switching to GMail: 1

The Times of London is reporting an admission by Microsoft that problems that surfaced two days ago in signing in to Windows Live services continue for some, in spite of Microsoft’s proclamation that the issue had been resolved.  In a statement to the Times, Microsoft said:

In a statement this afternoon, Microsoft said: "We are aware that some customers may be experiencing difficulty accessing their Windows Live accounts. We’re actively investigating the cause and are working to take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation as rapidly as possible."

Earlier, Microsoft had acknowledged the problem but considered it resolved:

"Yesterday, an issue began that has caused some consumers worldwide to experience difficulty logging in to their Windows Live ID accounts," Microsoft said in a statement. "This issue has since been resolved and normal operations have been restored to all customers."

We wrote earlier this week about the importance for Microsoft to "win the hearts and minds" of customers who aren’t locked into corporate contracts, who can easily switch to other competing services.  This is the perfect example of how a less than transparent Microsoft, with unclear and under-utilized avenues of communicating with those customers, can backfire.  We don’t live in a perfect world, and there are going to be outages, even sticky-to-fix ones.  Just ask Blackberry, or Twitter.  How you handle those situations, however, is what separates the companies that will win in this new space, and those that won’t.

The Times of London goes on to quote from readers who say they are switching to other services. 

"I think I’m most irritated about the fact that Microsoft is downplaying the extent of the problem," wrote one Hotmail user yesterday. "The outage is not resolved, and is now going into its second day."

The company has not given any indication as to the cause of the outage.

Several others have also suggested they will shifting to rival mail services such as Yahoo! or Gmail, Google’s offering, as a result of the outage.

"I’ve just swapped from Hotmail to Gmail yesterday," wrote Martyn, from Dubai. "Not being able to access my account yesterday was the final straw. I’ve found Hotmail increasingly unreliable and I get lots of spam too."

‘JCP’, from La Jolla, in California, wrote: "For me, this is the last straw. It’s hard to migrate to another service like gmail or yahoo, but the unreliability of hotmail has just gotten to be too consistent."

Of course you can find someone to say just about anything, and we don’t want to imply that there is a wholesale migration taking place (or even that the exodus is greater than these two Times readers).  However some honest communication, built into a system of transparency, in our opinion, would make a world of difference here, and in outages and problems to come.