Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zune Gets New Years' Hangover Early (UPDATE / FIX)

UPDATE 15:00 -- Microsoft says they've identified the problem and "fix"... wait until tomorrow and the issue will go away. More below.

An apparent "Z2K" (2K9? Y2K+9?) bug seems to have rendered all 30GB Microsoft Zune players useless. Microsoft officials acknowledged this afternoon what has been reported all morning from thousands of users:
Customers using the Zune 30 might experience problems starting their players. We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it.

That's of little comfort for users of the iPod-rival hoping to use the player to entertain friends at New Years' Eve parties tonight. The incident comes at poor timing for Microsoft who, in a few days, is expected to map out future Zune strategy at a CES keynote with Steve Balmer.

If you are affected, I urge you to act responsibly:
  • First, remain calm. As frustrating as this situation is, you will only make matters worse if you try to fix things yourself. The best bet is to wait for a fix from Microsoft. Yes, it's annoying being without your portable entertainment device, but all gadgets have hiccups, and this one will be resolved.
  • Do not panic. The "Zunepocalypse" only seems to affect 30GB Zune players at this time. There's no reason to believe your toaster, iPod, or garage door opener will suddenly stop working tonight. We survived "Y2K", we'll make it through this.
  • Stay tuned. I'll post updated information here, and Microsoft's support site is also a great place to check for a fix.

In the meantime, might I suggest tuning in your radio? I'll be talking about this on KOMO 1000 Newsradio in Seattle and Newsradio 750 KXL in Portland. Your Zune will be back tomorrow, in the meantime -- read a book, rediscover your car's radio, watch TV, check out some fun Youtube videos, or if you're really desperate: Visit your local Apple store for a new iPod? :)

UPDATE 15:00: Microsoft tells me the bug is specific to the 30GB Zune and should self-resolve within the next 24 hours. There is, "A bug in the internal clock driver causing the 30GB device to improperly handle the last day of a leap year."

Users experiencing problems are advised to sit tight, and try again tomorrow, on January 1, 2009. For details please visit

Official response for Zune 30 Freezing Issue (Zune 30gb stuck at reboot screen)

Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of which are still actively being used). The technical team jumped on the problem immediately and isolated the issue: a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year. The issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to January 1, 2009. We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT). By tomorrow you should allow the battery to fully run out of power before the unit can restart successfully then simply ensure that your device is recharged, then turn it back on. If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device.

Customers can continue to stay informed via the support page on (

We know this has been a big inconvenience to our customers and we are sorry for that, and want to thank them for their patience.

Q: Why is this issue isolated to the Zune 30 device?

It is a bug in a driver for a part that is only used in the Zune 30 device.

Q: What fixes or patches are you putting in place to resolve this situation?

This situation should remedy itself over the next 24 hours as the time flips to January 1st.

Q: What’s the timeline on a fix?

The issue Zune 30GB customers are experiencing today will self resolve as time changes to January 1.

Q: Why did this occur at precisely 12:01 a.m. on December 31, 2008?

There is a bug in the internal clock driver causing the 30GB device to improperly handle the last day of a leap year.

Q: What is Zune doing to fix this issue?

The issue should resolve itself.

Q: Are you sure that this won’t happen to all 80, 120 or other flash devices?

This issue is related to a part that is only used in Zune 30 devices.

Q: How many 30GB Zune devices are affected?

All 30GB devices are potentially affected.

Q: Will you update the firmware before the next leap year (2012)?

Matt Akers
Zune Product Team

And finally... Happy New Year!

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