Facebook’s Oculus suffered a prolonged, embarrassing outage yesterday because someone at the company forgot to update a certificate, which expired and plunged the company’s network of Oculus Rifts into darkness.
For nearly the entire day, users were unable to jump into VR. For gamers it was an annoyance, but with more and more companies looking to experiment with integrating virtual reality into their workflows, it was a major oversight.
Late last night, Oculus emerged with a system patch, an apology and a credit for affected customers. If you own a Rift, you’ll need to download the patch even if you haven’t used it in a while. Given that virtual reality isn’t necessarily something that people use every day, this means that this is going to cause confusion going forward, and require some ongoing attention from Oculus. Here’s a guide to downloading the patch.
Facebook VP of VR Hugo Barra was among the execs at the company that apologized for everything going so wrong. Now Oculus is offering a $15 store credit to anyone who has used their Rift since the beginning of February.
So, what went wrong here?
Basically, PCs require pieces of software to have certificates that verify their authenticity. These certificates generally need to be updated every couple of years in order for the software to continue to function. For whatever reason, Oculus simply didn’t get the update out to users, and yesterday morning, users powered on their systems to see that they couldn’t access any software. Users didn’t hear anything from the company for several hours and were left to brainstorm a solution that didn’t exist. Worse, the expired certificate meant that Oculus couldn’t push out an automatic update that fixed things; they had to build a patch that users need to separately download to get the correct updated certificate onto their systems.
It’s an embarrassing fiasco, and a frustrating one for consumers that have generally enjoyed pretty transparent feedback from the company.