Outlook - Mircosoft’s email platform suffered performance issues yesterday (20 February) as hundreds of users reported spam emails making their way into their main inbox. Outlook, which was called Hotmail until a rebrand in 2012, appeared to have a broken a junk filter system, causing the company’s support team to reply to several users’ complaints via social media.
Email platform Outlook first launched in 1996, when it was called Hotmail - Microsoft acquired the platform in 1997, and in 2012 relaunched as Outlook. Outlook email inboxes are separated into ‘focused’ and ‘other’ emails - focused emails are those the website consideres most important to the user.
Outlook also has a junk folder where suspected spam emails are supposed to be sent automatically - these junk emails will be automatically deleted after 30 days unless the user manually moves them into their main inbox. However yesterday this seperation of junk emails did not seem to be working hundreds of users.
It is these junk emails that have been causing issues for users as potential spam content appeared in users’ main inbox, prompting some to mute their notifications due to the number of email alerts they were receiving.
Is Outlook broken?
It appears that Microsoft’s spam filters, which send suspected spam and junk emails into the junk folder, were not working on Monday. Writing in The Verge, Tom Warren said: “I woke up to more than 20 junk messages in my Focused Inbox in Outlook this morning, and spam emails have kept breaking through on an hourly basis today.”
According to Downdetector, hundreds of issues have been reported over the last nine hours - last month thousands of users worldwide were unable to access Teams or Outlook due to outages.
The Microsoft stock price has fallen over the last several days following failures with Bing AI, and at the time of writing is 1.5% down today - to $258, although this is still an increase from the start of the year when the stock price was $239.
What have Outlook users said?
One Twitter used said: “There’s a lot of junk mail coming through @Microsoft #Outlook over the last couple of days. Anyone else having this issue?”
Another added: “Hey @Outlook, you had cause me to go into notification hell this morning. All the email in my Junk Mail folder is now going to my Inbox. It is bypassing my Safe Sender list, which has been set up for years. Please fix so I can turn back on my notifications for Outlook.”
Another Twitter user said: “I wanna turn notifications off for Microsoft Outlook because I’m getting more and more junk email every f****ing day @Microsoft sort your s**t out!!!”
While there was guidance from one Twitter writer: “If you’re also getting inundated with spam right now, it might be worth temporarily disabling notifications for any email app on your phone that’s connected to your Outlook personal account. That will stop your phone waking up constantly to show you a notification about a spam email you definitely don’t care about.”
What has Microsoft said about spam emails?
At around 10.30am on Monday Microsoft Support’s official Twitter account responded to a user who had mentioned an issue with spam emails. Microsoft tweeted: “Your tweet about your concern with the Outlook junk filter caught our attention. There is no known issue so far. However, let us help you look into it.”
However, as more complaints about spam emails were reported, Microsoft replied to one such tweet, writing: “Hi! Glad you reached out. It appears that the spam emails are not being filtered to your Junk Folder. We’re here to help, and we’re inviting you to send us a DM to utilize character usage as we proceed, and let’s further discuss this matter there.”
Microsoft confirmed that the bug had been fixed on 21 February, tweeting in a reply to users complaining of the issue: “We would like you to know that our Outlook engineer has delivered a fix on this Junk filter issue”.