5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Microsoft Suffers 16-Hour Hotmail, Outlook Cloud Outage

Microsoft apologized to users for a cloud service outage that took down its Hotmail, Outlook.com and SkyDrive services for some users for about 16 hours. Microsoft blamed the outage on a firmware update that went awry, resulting in a temperature spike.

This failure resulted in a rapid and substantial temperature spike in the data center that caused Microsoft's safety measures to kick in, blocking access to mailboxes and disabling failover, Arthur de Haan, vice president of test and service engineering in Microsoft's Windows Services unit, said in a blog post.

Google Admits To Privacy Violations In Street View Case

Google finally fessed up to having violated people's privacy when its Street View cars unintentionally pilfered personal user data on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, including emails, URLs and passwords.

According to The New York Times, Google was fined $7 million in settling a privacy lawsuit brought by 38 U.S. states, though it pledged to step up its training for employees on privacy matters.

Another Lenovo Exec Talks Publicly About Acquiring BlackBerry

For the second time this year, a Lenovo executive has suggested publicly that acquiring BlackBerry, the handset market formerly known as RIM, wouldn't be a bad idea. This week, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing (pictured) reportedly told Paris-based newspaper Les Echos that a deal for BlackBerry "could possibly make sense, but first I need to analyze market and understand what exactly the importance of this company is."

In January, Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming said RIM was one of the options his company was mulling as an acquisition target. "We are looking at all opportunities -- RIM and many others," Wong said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Apple's Marketing Chief Trash-Talks Samsung

Phil Schiller (pictured), Apple's head of marketing, did something this week that was out of the ordinary for the company: engaging in trash talk prior to a rival's major product release. And that's making people wonder if Apple isn't getting a wee bit nervous about the momentum Samsung has at the moment. Schiller, in an interview with Reuters, noted that Google's own calculations show that most Android users are running older versions of the OS, and that the same will be true for Samsung's new Galaxy S4.

"With their own data, only 16 percent of Android users are on a year-old version of the operating system," Schiller told Reuters. "Over 50 percent are still on software that is two years old. A really big difference."

AT&T Getting Heat Over Phone Unlocking Policy

AT&T customers are disputing the carrier's insistence that it's fair and open in its policy for allowing customers to unlock their phones once they've finished their contracts.

"It’s a straightforward policy, and we aim to make the unlocking process as easy as possible. So, why all the recent hullabaloo?" Joan Marsh, AT&T vice president of federal regulatory, said in a recent blog post.

Several apparent AT&T customers disputed Marsh's claims in comments on her blog post. "You guys refused to unlock my iPhone 4 until after my contract term expired, and even then, it took four tries to get someone who actually didn’t tell me that you can’t unlock it," said one irate poster.