[ISN] WebTV Outage Strikes Again

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Thu Jul 02 1998 - 22:09:30 PDT

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    Forwarded From: William Knowles <erehwont_private>
    [Does anyone know what platform M$ is using to serve WebTV?
     in light of M$ having to use Solaris to serve their Hotmail 
     customers, Another possible embarrassment for Gates?
    	-William Knowles]
    [News.com] (7.2.98)For the second time in seven days, users 
    of WebTV's Internet access devices found their on-ramp online 
    was down.
    According to WebTV executives, the outage started yesterday at 
    around 3:30 p.m. PT and lasted until 5:30 p.m., when the company 
    powered down its network to bring new server computers online to 
    handle recent increases in customer usage. The servers are powerful 
    computers that handle the flow of information from the Internet to 
    devices such as WebTV's set-top box.
    Microsoft, which purchased WebTV last year for $425 million 
    in an effort to expand its reach into the consumer electronics 
    market, said a two-hour outage last week took place when a server 
    was brought down for unscheduled maintenance. In both cases, 
    company representatives say users had problems logging on to the 
    service both before and after the outages, as network capacity 
    reached its limits.
    WebTV said an unexpectedly large number of new users have 
    swamped the system. "Recently, we've had a flood of people 
    coming in.  Unfortunately, we didn't have enough server 
    capacity for yesterday," said an apologetic Steve Perlman, 
    president of WebTV Networks.
    Normally, WebTV expects to experience the most growth in the 
    fall and Christmas months, he added, and server installations 
    are planned accordingly to handle the additional load. 
    Unseasonably strong sales have forced the company to add 
    new capacity to the service.
    According to Perlman, the service now has 400,000 users. 
    Analysts' most recent estimates had counted some 350,000 
    customers, and previously the company counted some 250,000 
    during last year's Christmas selling season. The executive 
    attributed the growth spurt to finally having enough units 
    available in retail stores from manufacturers Sony, Philips, 
    and Mitsubishi.
    "We're trying to best we can, and it hurts us a lot when the 
    service doesn't run perfectly. It's gotten to the point where 
    it really matters when service goes down," Perlman noted.
    Such problems aren't new for the fledgling consumer service. 
    WebTV experienced similar problems in December, again due to 
    unexpectedly strong sales.
    Because WebTV has not been in business very long, the 
    company has had trouble forecasting service demand. 
    While such difficulties apparently are not turning off 
    new users yet, consumers expect home electronics being 
    more reliable than computers. Any disenchantment with the
    emerging array of information appliances could limit their 
    appeal to the mass market.
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