Services Slowly Coming Back Online
Microsoft said on Monday that an issue with Azure Active Directory had prevented users from authenticating into their cloud-hosted accounts. As a result, Microsoft 365 services such as Office, Teams, SharePoint, and even Xbox Live had become inaccessible for some around noon on Monday.
A recent change in how Azure authenticates its users is the identified culprit for the outage. Microsoft rolled back the changes as soon as it become apparent that the update prevented users from logging into their Office 365 accounts. However, the software rollback took a lot longer time than the company expected, thus resulting in a five hour downtime for many of its users on Monday.
The outage appeared to only affect users trying to login to their online Microsoft 365 accounts. Users are able to continue using offline applications such as locally-installed Office 365.
Impacts Felt Across the Globe
This outage comes after a similar incident last September of 2020 where users were unable to login to their Office 365 applications for over five hours. Both incidents stemmed from an Azure related issue that prevented users from authenticating into their Microsoft 365 accounts. The company had already deployed additional protections to the Azure Active Directory backend to help mitigate authentication issues. Microsoft estimates that the fix will be complete sometime in the middle of 2021. Once finished, the software update will prevent authentication related outages such as the one that occurred this week and the related incident in September 2020.
Although the majority of affected users regained access to their online accounts after just a few hours when issue was first discovered, a few have experienced prolonged outages and have taken to Twitter bemoan the fact that they still unable to login to their Office accounts. For their part, Microsoft had provided constant updates on the situation via the Azure status page and Office status page.
Office 365 is Still The Gold Standard
Both outages have impacted millions of users worldwide as organizations are continuing to have its employees work from home as a response to the global CoVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft stresses that despite these outages, its Office 365 suite of productivity software still remains the best solution for organizations looking to equip its workforce for the new work-from-home environment. Office 365 provides workers a robust platform for collaborative working.