Call it the Z2K9 bug. At approximately midnight EDT on Dec. 30, a number of first-generation 30GB Microsoft Zunes failed en masse. According to accounts posted to Zune forums around the Web, the players seized up during the initial boot process and became unresponsive to the standard reboot or reset commands. “From what I can tell it looks like every Zune 30 on the planet has suddenly crashed,” one Zune owner wrote in a post to the Zune Forums. “Is this a virus? A glitch? A time bomb? A disgruntled Microsoft employee? Planned obsolescence to make us buy a new one? Or just a terrorist plot to drive the free world crazy?”
Microsoft (MSFT) hasn’t yet commented on the failure, so it’s difficult to determine what exactly is at work here, although it seems likely to be a firmware bug. Regardless of the cause, such a widespread simultaneous device failure is a nasty blow to Microsoft and to the Zune, which is already a powerful magnet for bad press.
“I hate to say it but I believe this is the end of the road for the Zune and I. Just as I was happy with the last update and things were fine, we get another major meltdown. I was always supportive and had good things to say about my Zune to those that would ask, however this is the nail in the coffin,” one Zune owner wrote in a post to ZuneScene. “I can’t take it anymore. I can’t sit here all the time and wonder what Microsoft does right or wrong anymore, I just want to get up and go listen to my music. Listening to music is about the last thing I do with my Zune. I always have to reinstall, download new firmware, or wait for the slow software to catch up. Now this? I want to throw it away and never look back.”
UPDATE: Microsoft is aware of the issue and working on a solution. From Zune Insider:
Customers with 30gb Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware. We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!
UPDATE II:: Looks like Microsoft’s discovered a solution to the Z2K9 bug, and it’s a simple one: wait 24 hours and it will go away on its own. Here’s Microsoft’s explanation in full:
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. That being the case, 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 are 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.