Refuting reports that a Microsoft .NET Messenger Service outage earlier this week was caused by a lack of hardware redundancy, Microsoft admitted today that human error was responsible for the 5-hour service disruption. "We're looking at internal processes to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," said Larry Grothaus, a Microsoft product manager. "It was a serious thing. We apologize."

Apparently, Microsoft technicians incorrectly configured new routers during a routine upgrade of the .NET Messenger Service; the error dropped an estimated 30 million to 75 million users from the service Monday morning. The company hasn't released any figures, but most people who use MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger, the Instant Messaging (IM) applications that rely on the service, were affected.

This week's outage wasn't the service's worst, however. In mid-2001, MSN Messenger was offline for more than a week. As more and more customers--especially corporate users--rely on the service, stability and reliability are key to its continued success. "A large degree of reliability is necessary," Grothaus admitted. "We're taking steps to see to it that we don't have outages like this again."