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August 21, 2007, 2:26 am
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Windows Reboots Triggered Skype Glitch
By MATT MOORE 08.20.07, 5:36 PM ET
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FRANKFURT, Germany - A two-day outage that left millions of Skype
users unable to use the popular Internet phone service was caused by
an abnormally high number of restarts after people had downloaded a
Windows security update, the company said Monday.
The worldwide outage, which began on Thursday and ended on Saturday,
left millions of Skype users unable to log on to make phone calls or
send instant messages.
Luxembourg-based Skype Ltd., part of online auction giant eBay Inc.
(nasdaq: EBAY - news - people ), has more than 220 million users in
total but typically has 5 million to 6 million users online at any
given time. In January, Skype reported that it had counted 9 million
users online at one time.
In an update to users on Skype's Heartbeat blog, employee Villu Arak
said the disruption was not because of hackers or any other malicious
Instead, he said that the disruption "was triggered by a massive
restart of our users' computers across the globe within a very short
timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches
through Windows Update," Arak wrote.
Microsoft Corp. (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) released its monthly
patches last Tuesday, and many computers are set to automatically
download and install them. Installation requires a computer restart.
"The high number of restarts affected Skype's network resources. This
caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of
peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a
critical impact," Arak wrote.
Arak did not blame Microsoft for the troubles and said the outage
ultimately rested with Skype. Arak said Skype's network normally has
an ability to heal itself in such cases, but a previously unknown
glitch in Skype's software prevented that from occurring quickly
In a statement, Microsoft described its patch as routine and
reiterated that the disruption resulted from a bug in Skype software.
Users from Vietnam to Brazil to Germany to the United States had
complained they could not log on and make phone calls or send instant
The outage was a critical moment for the company, founded in 2003 by
Niklas Zennstrom and Janus (nyse: JNS - news - people ) Friis, and was
the first major outage since October 2005 when its service was down
only for a few hours.
"This disruption was unprecedented in terms of its impact and scope,"
Arak wrote. "We would like to point out that very few technologies or
communications networks today are guaranteed to operate without
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