SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp.'s free Web-based e-mail service and other sites have been unavailable for hours to Internet users around the world Tuesday.
Web surfers were unable to log on to Hotmail, along with other services that require a Microsoft login, such as the Xbox Live video game community site and the Windows Live Messenger instant messaging program.
Microsoft confirmed the problem was international in scope, but did not say how many people were affected or when a resolution was expected.
"We are aware that some customers may be experiencing difficulty accessing their Windows Live accounts," said Microsoft spokeswoman Samantha McManus in a statement. "We're actively investigating the cause and are working to take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation as rapidly as possible."