Several Microsoft online services are suffering from problems this evening, with both Xbox Live and the Windows Azure cloud service in the midst of extended outages. According to Microsoft's status page, Xbox Live users may have issues accessing data and saved games in the cloud. SmartGlass is also affected, along with the Xbox Live Karaoke and ESPN apps. The problem has been ongoing for several hours and appears to be getting worse, with the company recently adding Xbox Live functionality for Halo 4 to the list of affected services. In an update posted at 9:03PM ET, Microsoft states that "We are still working as fast as we can to fix the issue."
The problem may be related to another service interruption, this one affecting the company's Windows Azure cloud platform. At the time of this writing, 52 different services are currently listed as either offline or suffering from degraded performance. Microsoft explains that Azure's storage service is currently down worldwide "due to an expired certificate." The company goes on to say that it is "validating the recovery options before implementing them," and will keep users appraised with further updates. It's not specifically stated that the Azure outage is responsible for the Xbox Live problems, but given that both revolve around storage issues the timing is certainly suspect.
This isn't the first time
This isn't the first time Windows Azure has suffered from an outage due to certificate problems. Key parts of the service went down for 12 hours last February as well. In that case, Microsoft cited "a time calculation that was incorrect for the leap year"; the bug caused problems with the proper processing of digital certificates. It's not clear what led to the expired certificate behind today's outage, but we'll continue to monitor the situation and will update you with any further developments.
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Update: Xbox Music and Video services are now affected as well. According to a 10:31PM ET update, users may be unable to browse, stream, or buy audio and video content.
Update 2: As of 2:17AM ET, all Xbox Live services save Music and Video are listed as in normal working order. Windows Azure slowly appears to be coming back online, but according to Microsoft's status page 43 services are still affected by the outage.
Update 3: Microsoft's latest update, at 4:00AM ET, states that it has recovered "99 percent availability across all sub-regions" for Azure, while adding that "customers may experience intermittent failures during this period." All Xbox Live services — including Music and Video — are back up and running as well.