Empty email accounts, and some bad buzz for Hotmail

In the past few days, a number of Hotmail users have been complaining on WindowsLiveHelp.com about a rather disconcerting issue: their Hotmail accounts, some up to 10 years old, appear completely empty.  No emails, no folders, nothing, just what appears to be a new account.  Here’s a description of the problem, from one of the forum posts:

My emails have and folders have all been deleted and I have a welcome email from Hotmail can you help please? It looks like my account has been removed and set back up even though I log in everyday so it cant have been inactive. My email address is {removed email address}.

The affected accounts appear to the users as new accounts, and they even receive a new “Welcome to Hotmail” email.  One of the moderators in the Hotmail forums confirms this:

We have already filed a report about this and we are currently investigating this issue. As I have checked the accounts, they are registered as new accounts. We will keep you guys posted once we have news on what needs to be done.

While (we hope) the affected accounts will be restored soon, the issue is beginning to get some traction among news agencies, tech publications, and blogs.  PC World posted on the issue early on January 1st, and a number of other sites have picked up the story, including BBC News and The Seattle Times (via the AP).  Some disgruntled users even set up a Facebook group, and posted directions in the Hotmail forums on how to leave voicemail for Hotmail Group Program Manager Dick Craddock and Corporate Vice President Chris Jones.


Microsoft has been quiet on the issue so far, except for this, to the AP:

"At this point it appears to be a limited issue, and Microsoft is working with individual users who are impacted. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers," Microsoft spokeswoman Catherine Brooker said in statement Saturday. She declined to disclose what caused the glitch.

If you’re having problems with your Hotmail account, be sure to report it on WindowsLiveHelp.com (and maybe join the Facebook group for good measure).  If you’re Hotmail, you might want to work on your PR damage control (yes, even on New Year’s Day – the internet never sleeps!)