Updated: Skype reported down for millions of users

Company says it's working on the problem

Millions of Skype users are encountering service disruptions this afternoon - or no service at all - according to multiple media reports.

From the Skype Twitter account about a half-hour ago: "Our engineers and site operations team are working non-stop to get things back to normal - thanks for your continued patience."

(Day 2 update: Problems continue for Skype)

That presumes there has been patience. In reality, as has become custom for service outages of all kinds, aggrieved users are taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations.

For comic relief, there was this tweet from Startup Top Tips: "VOIP startups, Skype is down. Have your people issue a helpful press release that features a smug comment from your CEO."

And this this one from ReadWriteWeb: "Calm down, everyone: Skype is down because Julian needs to make a private phone call. #wikileaks."

I've got nothing better at the moment.

(Update, 2:30 p.m.: Skype offers explanation for what's going on:

Earlier today, we noticed that the number of people online on Skype was falling, which wasn't typical or expected, so we began to investigate.

Skype isn't a network like a conventional phone or IM network - instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call 'supernodes' - they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can't find them immediately (for example, because they're connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them.

Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype. As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you.

What are we doing to help? Our engineers are creating new 'mega-supernodes' as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal. This may take a few hours, and we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your conversations. Some features, like group video calling, may take longer to return to normal.

Stay tuned to @skype on Twitter for the latest updates on the situation - and many thanks for your continued patience in the meantime.)

(Update 2, 2:55: Now Twitter's down, too. Someone hold me.)

(Update 3, 3:05 p.m.: Nothing new to report on Skype. Twitter is still down. And good thing Facebook is up because my office is on the fourth floor and there's no way that window stops my chair.)

(Update 4, 3:15 p.m.: OK, Twitter's back but I can't tell you if Skype has had any more to say about its service troubles because the company's blog that I linked to in the first update is now inaccessible. Skype is definitely not having a good day.)

(Update 5, 3:30: I know this is inside baseball for journalists and public relations professionals, but skip back up to that tweet from Startup Top Tips suggesting that it shouldn't be long before competitors start making hay at Skype's expense. Now look what just landed in my inbox: "If you're considering a follow on story, I'd like to offer you perspective from (name withheld because I don't want to give them the publicity) who can talk about the dangers of consumer grade services like Skype and explain the value of carrier quality, reliable cloud services for the enterprise." Elapsed time between tweet and PR pitch: 3 hours.)

(Update 6, 3:55: "Skype now returning to normal," according to Skype.)

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