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Cannot sign in to MS forums, any progress? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Just wondering if there is any progress concerning the long standing issue that prevents some users from signing in and using the web interface.

    Peter Thornton

    Monday, June 18, 2012 10:07 AM

Answers

  • In response you said "So that's an error on the server that we would like to work around if possible." and you suggested to debug with Fiddler2. Which I did, but as I mentioned I have no idea how to interpret the results (ie the addresses & cookies)


    Here is contemporary background context for that idea.

    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-TT/reportabug/thread/2a60da4f-7d1b-44e2-8424-7ab11b6f606a

    So clearly Garth and I were getting connected initially to a server which was different from one which we might have been.   Fiddler traces information about the IP addresses it is connecting to, so it would have allowed someone who was aware of the real  DNS map at the time to see whether there was a bad one which needed to be removed from service, etc.

    I can't remember if Fiddler gives us any extra insight about the origin of the Cookies being sent.   I don't think so; so it would be another detail which would be mostly useful to a server operator.   But you could do things such as compare the number of things being sent when using InPrivate Browsing mode yourself.   E.g. when you have two otherwise identical traces you don't need to understand exactly what a trace means to make useful inferences by comparing them for their essential differences.

    Robert
    ---

    Monday, July 9, 2012 2:36 PM

All replies

  • Still an issue? I also had the problem, but I cannot repro it any more.

    Thanks!


    Ed Price (a.k.a User Ed), SQL Server Experience Program Manager (Blog, Twitter, Wiki)

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 1:44 AM
    Owner
  • Yes it is still very much an issue. It's related to LiveID and certain MS sites, most notably the MSDN/TechNet forums. As explained in considerable detail over the years some users cannot use the web forums while signed in.

    Peter Thornton

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:07 AM
  • Peter, open up a MVP support case.  As long as the internal folks can't repro the issue, there will be no fix.  I think I was supposed to open up a support case for you but dropped the ball sorry about that.  Email me at susan-at-msmvps.com and I'll set one up.
    Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10:56 PM
  • To illustrate, the following is typical of what confronts me after signing in. It says "try again later" but I've been trying for over a year and a half (cropped to show the right half of the LiveID Sign-up/sign-in screen only).

    FWIW there's no problem signing in at and using "other sites on the network", but it doesn't help with the MS forums.

    If it's really not possible to fix the issue it might be helpful to others to avoid spending unnecessary time attempting to use the forums if a more informative error message is presented.

    Peter Thornton
    (posting now from a different location)

    Friday, June 29, 2012 10:40 AM
  • I've been trying for over a year and a half

    Still only with XP?   If you could get to IE9 you could use its Developer Tools Network Capture, e.g. instead of Fiddler2.   An advantage of Fiddler is that it shows IP addresses which have been used but when HTTPS protocol is involved Fiddler itself can change the symptoms.   I don't know what diagnostics for secure transmissions other browsers might have.



    FYI

    Robert
    ---

    Friday, June 29, 2012 3:49 PM
  • I've been trying for over a year and a half

    Still only with XP? If you could get to IE9 you could use its Developer Tools Network Capture, e.g. instead of Fiddler2. An advantage of Fiddler is that it shows IP addresses which have been used but when HTTPS protocol is involved Fiddler itself can change the symptoms. I don't know what diagnostics for secure transmissions other browsers might have.

    For me it is currently ony failing in XP (irrespective of browser), though in the past has failed in W7. Also although most of the reports about similar mention XP, a few have said W7.

    For my purposes I can workaround the issue, normally by using the Bridge or when that's down (behind the scenes as it is sometimes) moving to a different location (which is how I included the screenshot last time). Even if some diagnositcs along the lines you mention could help solve things for me, without any interaction from the relevant MS team I don't think it would help other users who cannot use the forums.

    Peter Thornton

    Saturday, June 30, 2012 1:55 PM
  • Hi Peter, I remember your problem descriptions ... If it fails on all browsers on a system that means that either the system has a problem software installed or the network you use that PC in has. If it is a laptop try it in another network. However, I think the most likely cause is some software on the machine itself. As a identifying step measure you could also install the same OS in parallel and try to use the forums. I'm sure it will work just fine. (If not there is something wrong with the network or with your account.) Then add the same software that you use in the default system.

    (and do not anything else, e.g. do not install Windows Live or security software for instance, before you verified that it works on a fresh system.)

    I'm sure you googled about this? Did you find this one and try it? See the one that starts with "Problem solved".

    http://www.vistax64.com/windows-live/288992-windows-live-skydrive-no-access-2.html

    You do not have any of the sites involved (e.g. *.live.com, *.msdn.microsoft.com, *.microsoft.com) in your Trusted Sites list, do you?


    IEFAQ: http://iefaq.info





    Monday, July 2, 2012 5:48 PM
  • Hello again Kai,

    If it fails on all browsers on a system that means that either the system has a problem software installed or the network you use that PC in has.

    I doubt it's a network issue, an old XP system on the same network works fine.

    However, I think the most likely cause is some software on the machine itself. As a identifying step measure you could also install the same OS in parallel and try to use the forums.

    Quite possibly something on the system but probably not an exe and no idea what. An "elimination" process is not practical.

    http://www.vistax64.com/windows-live/288992-windows-live-skydrive-no-access-2.html

    There's no problem with Skydrive and most other LiveID sites, though from memory I believe there are a couple other sites that require LiveID that are similarly affected besides the web forums. The old Answers was affected but Answers2 is OK.

    You do not have any of the sites involved (e.g. *.live.com, *.msdn.microsoft.com, *.microsoft.com) in your Trusted Sites list, do you?

    I'm well aware that's also an issue but no, no trusted sites at all. All addins have been disabled.

    I assume it's cookie related. If I delete all cookies or use InPrivate I can sign in and perhaps view one page and appear correctly signed in. But if then I try something else the next page will produce the screenshot I posted earlier in this thread.

    FWIW, after attempting to sign in unsuccessfully on a forum page, if I switch to say Skydrive - I arrive already signed in. Also, after attempting to sign in on a web forum page, the only way to sign out is to go to some other LiveID site to sign out, eg Skydrive.

    All the above and much more has been covered in discussions many times, I have spent a LOOONG time trying to get to the bottom of the issue!

    Peter Thornton

    Monday, July 2, 2012 7:52 PM
  • "Funny" thing. I had tried yesterday to reproduce the problem by blocking first-party cookies and session cookies (in addition to my usual blocking of third-party cookies). I couldn't - I soon realized that was because 1) the sites were Trusted, anyway, and 2) blocking means "block writing", not "block reading". I didn't bother to go on with testing by removing the sites.

    I switched all back to normal and didn't experience any problems. Machine kept running over night.

    Today I paid a short visit to Answers and then later another one. The second one brought me your symptoms. I'm sure it's somehow connected to my tests yesterday, but it's still mysterious how exactly it is connected. It's the first time this happened for me. There was no problem with other Live-ID sites or MSDN forums at the same time. So it was for Answers just like you experience it for MSDN forums. I did not have a problem with Firefox on the same machine.

    I tried all my usual methods (sign-out from all Live-ID sites via my test site, clear all cache, clear cookie for the domain via F12 tools, I even rebooted just for the Voodoo effect), nothing worked. I then came to the conclusion I had to specifically clear the answers.microsoft.com cookie (wrong conclusion) which is not available to clear from F12 if you can't sit on it and loaded iecv. I deleted the answers.microsoft.com cookie, that didn't help. I then deleted the two microsoft.com cookies (one for system, one for my account) and the login.live.com cookie. This helped. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't the clearing of the microsoft.com cookies, but of the login.live.com cookie. After I had done this the login screen was "wiped" and didn't even remember my Live ID, I had to enter it all fresh. That clearly points to the Live-ID cookie.

    Note, staying on the login.live.com site and using F12 to clear that specific cookie did obviously not delete it, although I had expected it to do so! I had to use iecv to get away with it.

    iecv is downloadable from http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/iecookies.html

    I suggest you try it and delete these cookies: answers.microsoft.com, login.live.com and maybe the two microsoft.com cookies, just to be safe. IE should not be open while you do that.

    If you are on XP there's nothing else to do. If you are on a UAC enabled system there are actually two Cookies folders. You have to check for the sites and delete in both folders. There's an option "Select Cookies folder" on the File menu. For getting a list of the "other" cookies you have to add "\low" to the path. If the sites are Internet zone they will be in the low folder, if they are Trusted they are not in low. (This can also actually create a problem, because one sites may be in Trusted and the other may not. Also, Microsoft seems to add some sites to the internal HKLM Trusted Sites list by default on newer OS systems, most notably login.live.com, and these sites are not visible in the GUI.) You should delete in both.

    There's one other caveat. It's possible that if you linked an online ID to your account that this might interfere. I checked on two systems and I didn't have any ID linked to my user account. This is at Control Panel > User Accounts. On XP it's the option to "set up my account to use a .NET passport" and on Windows 7 it's "Link online IDs". If you did any of these you may need to delete that linking to get a blank plate. There's also "Manage your credentials" on Windows 7 which doesn't hold anything Live-ID related here (AFAICS) for me, but may for you.

    I really hope this gets you rolling again.


    IEFAQ: http://iefaq.info





    Wednesday, July 4, 2012 10:43 AM
  • Hi Kai,

    Interesting and thanks for your comments, all very strange! I'm surprised you had the problem with Answers2, as I mentioned the for me the old Answers was problematic but not the new Answers2 (just incredibly slow)

    IECookiesView is a handy little app!

    I'm using XP, there is only one administrator user. I do not have another ID linked to my account.

    As I mentioned before my problems persist after deleting all cookies via the IE UI (but see below) and using InPrivate (which as I understand does not use previously created cookies).

    For some reason deleting cookies via the UI does not delete all cookies, only about 90%, and does not reduce the index.data file. So I set about deleting the cookies you mentioned and some more after noticing they appear as recently "accessed" after attempting to sign in.

    microsoft.com
    live.com
    m.webtrends.com
    social.msdn.microsoft.com
    c.microsoft.com  (this gets accessed but doesn't get modified)
    (and some more)

    In a new session but not InPrivate, after deleting relevant cookies,
       - I sign in on a web forum page,
       - then all appears as if I'm signed in,
       - I click a random link on the web page,
       - I notice several addresses changing in the address bar,
       - no page loads, instead mainly white and the "diagnoze connections page appears", (this is a typical scenario though other times the screenshot I posted in this thread)
       - F5 refresh, still same, nothing loads
       - On a new tab I go to Skydrive, I arrive signed in, I sign out
       - I go back to the previous tab with the failed web forum page, F5, the original page successfully refreshes but not sign in.

    Clearly there must be something specific to my particular machine, cookies and LiveID, (and similar with other impacted users), but what? Yet sometimes others recreate similar but only temporarily, as you with Answers and Ed Price repro'd a while a go.

    I've spent half a day on this, it's still a mystery. I think the only way to get to the bottom of this is if someone who knows the logic and mechanism of LiveID gets involved, ideally in a position to track what's going on both ends.

    Thanks again for your interest, much appreciated!

    Peter Thornton

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012 3:34 PM
  • For some reason deleting cookies via the UI does not delete all cookies, only about 90%, and does not reduce the index.data file.

    Silly me, I left "Preserve Favorites websites data" ticked when deleting cookies.

    Anyway, I have since deleted ALL cookies and deleted index.dat (which is not easy).

    I tested again, no difference, it's the same as using InPrivate - sign in and it looks like signed in for one page view, but click any link on the page and either no page displays at all or the LiveID error page appears.

    Peter Thornton

    Thursday, July 5, 2012 9:46 AM
  • I think this means that something blocks the cookie from getting read or written. One can reproduce this on other sites, for instance on my own sites (which use serverside sessions and therefore need session cookie support). If I disable all cookie handling in IE I can login and see the first "internal" page, however, the next click throws me out.

    As already mentioned above it must have something to do with your security program or another program interfering.

    You surely do not have to remove the index.dat files. On the contrary this could hose the setup. If iecv shows the cookie is gone it is gone. It doesn't look like the problem lies in IE itself, that's why you can't battle it at that stage any further.

    Did you ever test with a second user account on that machine? Create a second admin privilege user and try there. That's much less hazzle than installing a new system in parallel. By theory you would think that the security program might interfere there as well, but sometimes that's not the case.

    You mentioned seeing the "Windows Live Network is not available" screen above, but what you describe later (e.g. being able to login and see the "first" page) is a bit different. Also different to what I was able to "accidentally" reproduce. It was only the "Windows Live Network is not available" screen that I was able to see. No way to sign-in at all. Actually, it kept trying to sign me in about half-a-dozen times before it gave up and displayed the screen. (You can get a log of the sign-in attempts with Fiddler or with F12, Network capture (not with IE8)).

    Do you get this screen once you were signed-in and were trying to navigate further?

    Oh, inPrivate, btw, do you have pinned sites on the Windows 7 machine? Any pinned site session will have limitations like inPrivate. Make sure you don't use a window that was launched as a pinned site. Of course, this can't apply to XP.


    IEFAQ: http://iefaq.info

    Thursday, July 5, 2012 3:42 PM
  • Hi Kai, interesting comments!

    As already mentioned above it must have something to do with your security program or another program interfering.

    I don't think related to security, for testing I completely disabled ESET's firewall, AV & anti-spyware, and "real time protection". Also no problems with the similar security setup in other machines.

    Maybe there is some other program interfering but I cannot imagine what.

    You surely do not have to remove the index.dat files. On the contrary this could hose the setup. If iecv shows the cookie is gone it_is_ gone. It doesn't look like the problem lies in IE itself, that's why you can't battle it at that stage any further.

    I don't think deleting index.dat has caused any problems, it was immediately recreated (16kb). I saved the complete cookies folders & index.dat so I could restore it, but I don't think necessary

    Did you ever test with a second user account on that machine? Create a second admin privilege user and try there. That's much less hazzle than installing a new system in parallel. By theory you would think that the security program might interfere there as well, but sometimes that's not the case.

    No I've never tried that, good idea. I created a second user account with admin privileges. At first it everything seemed to work, it looked like I was fully signed in and could click 3 or 4 links successfully. Then I tried to make a post and the LiveID error page appeared!!! On a new tab I went to msn.com and I arrived as already signed in (ie with "sign out" link top right.

    To be clear, similar sign-in problems occurred with the brand new second user account (with security running normally and disabled).

    You mentioned seeing the "Windows Live Network is not available" screen above, but what you describe later (e.g. being able to login and see the "first" page) is a bit different. Also different to what I was able to "accidentally" reproduce. It was only the "Windows Live Network is not available" screen that I was able to see. No way to sign-in at all. Actually, it kept trying to sign me in about half-a-dozen times before it gave up and displayed the screen. (You can get a log of the sign-in attempts with Fiddler or with F12, Network capture (not with IE8)).

    Do you get this screen once you were signed-in and were trying to navigate further?

    Although effectively I cannot sign in under normal browsing or InPrivate the scenarios are slightly different:

    Normal browsing (with old cookies) -

    1 click "Sign in" on a forum page
    2 the liveID sign in page appears and I sign in
    3a the previous forum page appears with "Sign in" link at top right
    3b click the "sign in" link again and go round in circles back to the same page
    4 click any link in the forum page
    5 "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage" and "diagnose connection problems" but the previous link to the forum page is in the address bar
    6 in a new tab go to Skydrive.com, "sign out" appears top right
    IOW I am signed in to most LiveID sites but not forum sites

    Normal browsing with all cookies deleted and same with InPrivate -

    1, 2 & 6 as above
    3 the previous forum page appears with "Sign out" link at top right (at first glance apparently signed in)
    4 click any link in the forum page. I might be able to click zero to about 4 links before hitting #4 below
    5 The LiveID "Windows Live Network is not available" page appears with https://login.livecom/login.srf.+long-address. in the address bar shaded in green.

    With both normal and InPrivate after reaching #5 I cannot navigate any further in the forums site. I must go to another LiveID site to sign out (eg msn skydrive)

    re pinned sites - currently I am only having problems in my main XP machine (another XP and W7 work fine)

    One more thing, I tested with a new temporary ID - same problem in the same machine

    I accept something on my machine might be conflicting with the LiveID credentials - but what, and why only with the forum sites, and why the slight difference with normal/InPrivate browsing ??? !!!

    Peter Thornton

    PS, it's not only me and I think not only XP

    Friday, July 6, 2012 9:46 AM
  • Ok, maybe this is all actually a blind alley. The fact that you are signed in for other sites once you attempt to sign-in to MSDN forums and that you are occasionally getting "cannot display" and such rather points to a problem with the MSDN forums site itself and not the Live-ID. Using Fiddler or the Network Capture in F12 *may* help for the "cannot display" cases as it may display some helpful information why IE gives this message.

    I would largely agree that it's probably not the Eset software as I'm using it myself, but you cannot be sure. Only completely uninstalling it would give a guarantee.

    I see that you are using the Smartscreen Filter. I suggest switching it off for a while.


    IEFAQ: http://iefaq.info

    Friday, July 6, 2012 12:05 PM
  • Ok, maybe this is all actually a blind alley. The fact that you are signed in for other sites once you attempt to sign-in to MSDN forums and that you are occasionally getting "cannot display" and such rather points to a problem with the MSDN forums site itself and not the Live-ID.

    I assume it's due to a combination of the forums, LiveID, and my setup.

    Using Fiddler or the Network Capture in F12 may help for the "cannot display" cases as it may display some helpful information why IE gives this message.

    I installed Fiddler2 over a year a go at Robert's suggestion. But the results are meaningless to me!

    I would largely agree that it's probably not the Eset software as I'm using it myself, but you cannot be sure. Only completely uninstalling it would give a guarantee.

    I suppose you're right, but it's a lot of work for such a small possibility. Besides I'm virtually certain not all affected users use ESET.

    I see that you are using the Smartscreen Filter. I suggest switching it off for a while.

    How on earth did you see that! It's a very long time since I've been able to submit a post via the web interface using this machine, I use the Bridge (I submitted one post in this thread with a screenshot using a different machine). But you're right, I've just disabled Smartscreen Filter, tested in a new session, no difference.

    Peter Thornton

    Friday, July 6, 2012 1:39 PM
  • I installed Fiddler2 over a year a go at Robert's suggestion.

    IIRC that was when coincidentally there was a suspected problem with the DNS.  

    Coincidentally  DNS  is in the news now:

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/protect/forum/protect_scanning/dnschanger-virus/d8637275-eccf-4865-8f87-d8ab7b0874e2?tab=MoreHelp

    <EG>



    ---

    Friday, July 6, 2012 9:04 PM
  • Hi Robert,

    I installed Fiddler2 over a year a go at Robert's suggestion.

    IIRC that was when coincidentally there was a suspected problem with the DNS.

    For a long time I (and others) used to get an error page would appear which included this text in red font (snippet between the quotes)

    "
    Server Error in '/Forums' Application.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Runtime Error
    Description: An application error occurred on the server. The current custom error settings for this application prevent the details of the application error from being viewed remotely (for security reasons). It could, however, be viewed by browsers running on the local server machine.
    "

    In response you said "So that's an error on the server that we would like to work around if possible." and you suggested to debug with Fiddler2. Which I did, but as I mentioned I have no idea how to interpret the results (ie the addresses & cookies)

    Peter Thornton

    Monday, July 9, 2012 9:35 AM
  • In response you said "So that's an error on the server that we would like to work around if possible." and you suggested to debug with Fiddler2. Which I did, but as I mentioned I have no idea how to interpret the results (ie the addresses & cookies)


    Here is contemporary background context for that idea.

    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-TT/reportabug/thread/2a60da4f-7d1b-44e2-8424-7ab11b6f606a

    So clearly Garth and I were getting connected initially to a server which was different from one which we might have been.   Fiddler traces information about the IP addresses it is connecting to, so it would have allowed someone who was aware of the real  DNS map at the time to see whether there was a bad one which needed to be removed from service, etc.

    I can't remember if Fiddler gives us any extra insight about the origin of the Cookies being sent.   I don't think so; so it would be another detail which would be mostly useful to a server operator.   But you could do things such as compare the number of things being sent when using InPrivate Browsing mode yourself.   E.g. when you have two otherwise identical traces you don't need to understand exactly what a trace means to make useful inferences by comparing them for their essential differences.

    Robert
    ---

    Monday, July 9, 2012 2:36 PM