Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine customers were shut out of the platform this week, during a 6-hour outage. The company confirms the service was down between 05:13 UTC and 11:45 UTC yesterday. It seems the issue affected some Windows Virtual Machines customers.

Among the issues reported by users include the ability to create, update, start, and delete virtual machines.

Furthermore, users were unable to deploy new VMs or update existing ones. However, VMs running on Linux or those currently on Windows were not affected by the outage.

In response to the problem, Microsoft issued the following explanation:

“We identified that calls made during service management operations were failing as a required artifact version data could not be queried. Our investigation focused on the backend compute resource provider (CRP) to determine why the calls were failing, and identified that a required VMGuestAgent could not be queried from the repository.

The VM Guest Agent Extension publishing architecture was being migrated (as part of a migration of legacy service management backend systems) to a new platform which leverages the latest Azure Resource Manager (ARM) capabilities.”

Dealing with Downtime

With the service back up, it is business as usual for Azure Virtual Machine customers. Still, these are the kinds of outages Microsoft is trying to eradicate. While that is perhaps a lofty goal, Microsoft has been working on improving the reporting process around Azure cloud outages.

Since last year, Microsoft says admins and IT professionals should use the Service Health view in the Azure Portal. Here, outage information is readily available to anybody who has “owner, contributor, or reader access.”

Tip of the day: Windows Aero Shake is a handy feature that lets you quickly reduce screen clutter with a shake of an app’s title bar. Doing so minimizes all windows other than the one in focus, allowing you to focus solely on what’s at hand. Another wiggle lets you undo Aero Shake, maximizing the other Windows again so you can continue working.

Unfortunately, the feature can also have unintended consequences. Those who move their windows about or have dual monitors may notice that they’re accidentally activating Windows shaking. Luckily, enabling or disabling Aero shake isn’t too hard.