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The Zunepocalypse Cometh: 30GB Zunes Freezing En Masse

First Microsoft faces accusations of knowing about faulty Xbox 360 hardware before the consoles ever shipped, and now the company is facing another hardware-related crisis: Zune mass destruction.... or rather, the Zunepocalypse.


So maybe that's somewhat of an exaggeration, but when thousands upon thousands of Zune portable devices go haywire all at once, consumers should be wary of the manufacturer and its evil intent. Is this part of a Microsoft-Government conspiracy to take over the minds of millions of Americans? Is this a sign of the Apocalypse? Will the chicken ever cross the road safely? These questions can't be answered here, however enquiring minds want to know: what the hell is going on?

According to this article over on Gizmodo, 30GB Zunes are crashing all at once, its operating systems freezing up from midnight last night until now. A tip from a Gizmodo reader reports that the device begins to load, but freezes once the bar completes its journey across the screen. He checked his brother's 30GB Zune device and it too remained locked at the loading screen. Jumping online and trolling

through forums (Zune Support, Zune.net) coughed up nothing but bad news: the problem is widespread.

Others have reported that their Zunes automatically restarted once the clock changed to 12:00:01 am this morning, thus locking up at the boot screen. Whether the device was hooked to a PC, playing music, or turned off all night, the devices have ultimately become bricked with no viable solution from Microsoft. Even owners of multiple 30GB Zune models have reported identical problems.

Afflicted consumers flooding forums with their claims of doom call the meltdown "Zune 2K9," mostly because the device malfunction has transpired just one day away from a fresh new 2009; many believe that the bug is a problem with the calendar. The name also references back to the infamous Y2K bug that brought fear to the hearts of every living creature (aka stupid humans). A search on YouTube pulls up loads of ZK9 videos, from "How to Unfreeze Your 30GB Zune" to "The Day The 30GB Zune Stood Still."

Microsoft has acknowledged the problem but currently has not offered a fix. "Customers using the Zune 30 might experience problems starting their players," says the company on the Zune website. "We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it. The Zune Social might be slow or inaccessible. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!"

One Zune forum member made a good observation: the issue may very well have something to do with the leap year. "Being a software engineer I can easily see where this Zune problem comes from," he states. "Since this is the 366th day of the year, and the problem reared its head precisely at midnight, it's pretty obvious it's a date/time software issue caused by this being a leap year and this extra day is causing the Zune to choke on its own spit. This isn't the first time MS programmers have had difficulty with time." Of course, the additional second is added at the end of the year, not last night; the problem may not be a calendar issue after all.

This repair guide offers an unofficial method of disassembling the device, allowing users to unplug the battery and the 30GB hard drive in order to "hard reset" the device. Of course, this method not only may damage the device for novice techs, but could void any current warranty with Microsoft.

The problem undoubtedly puts Microsoft in a difficult position, especially as the company still comes under fire in regards to the Xbox 360. "The game is over," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, in regards to the company's position in the digital music player market currently ruled by Apple.

Over one million 30GB units were sold between 2006 and 2007.

UPDATE: Microsoft has issued the official fix method for all those with fallen 30GB Zunes. Basically, wait until next year.

  • MS said it should be fixed by 12AM tomorrow. They said it had to do with the clock resetting for the new years. So sometimes after midnight zunes should start fixing themselves.
    Reply
  • Darkk
    Truth be told which means we been beta testing their products all this time!!!!

    Reply
  • Daguava
    All they really can do for a fix is wait until next year (or as MS said, 12:00 Noon GTM January 1, 2009). How are you going to roll a firmware patch out onto a bricked Zune? They're lucky this was a temporary problem, or they would have had a lot of recalling to do. As soon as the un-bricking takes place tomorrow, MS should be able to roll out a patch, they have the next four years to do it. I'm sure it will come out pretty quickly to quell the chance of this happening again, but you never know.

    The worst part about this whole incident was Microsoft's inability to inform the public of what was going on. If they would have said, this is what we think, and here's what we're going to do about it, I don't think people would have freaked about the problem(see the zune support forum) as much as they have. Instead, they made a small announcement kept absolutely quiet for about half a day. I understand people probably will get mad when they spend $200 dollars on something like the Zune, but the combination of whining in the Zune forum, and Microsoft's inability to keep the public at least slightly informed just made things worse. This just adds another bad mark onto Microsoft's track record...
    Reply
  • kelfen
    hahaha microsoft and hardware mix like apples and nuts!
    Reply
  • SkateNY
    Great. Microsoft innovates a new bug, for a relatively new product (one Microsoft year is roughly equivalent to seven human years -- check out the time between OS releases, e.g.), and then only discovers it when it's too late. Procrastination (read: incompetence) seems to be one of their strengths, if not also a social skill.

    Bad enough that tax payers, consumers and businesses footed a bill totalling hundreds of millions of dollars for their Y2K debacle. (Oh. We forgot the century was turning. Our bad.) Now, owners of their failed "iPod killer" have to suffer yet another insult, beyond a significant degree of insult that obtains from the simple fact of owning a Zune.

    When does it end? It ends when Microsoft discovers a bug that dissolves their incompetent corporate mismanagement. Oh, wait. That bug was already discovered but, because Microsoft is Microsoft, noboday cared. Except for those zanie Microsoft Kool Aid drinkers who seem to believe that every POS Microsoft creates is touched by Midas himself.

    Thanks again Microsoft. You're nothing if not consistent.

    Reply
  • ThePatriot
    LOL
    Zune Zucked really Zoon.

    Isn't there a thing that MS can do right? (besides licenses)
    Reply
  • ossie
    Microsuxx at it's best... It seems there's no limit in creation of "innovative" bugs from Redmont.
    Reply
  • It sucks but at least, unlike Apple, they don't deny the problem and they don't shut down the complaints threads as reported on this very site...
    Reply
  • chris312
    Way to write this article like a blog entry.
    Reply
  • for once this isn't microsoft's fault, its Freescale's. Here is the cause

    year = ORIGINYEAR; /* = 1980 */

    while (days > 365)
    {
    if (IsLeapYear(year))
    {
    if (days > 366)
    {
    days -= 366;
    year += 1;
    }
    }
    else
    {
    days -= 365;
    year += 1;
    }
    }

    http://www.zuneboards.com/forums/zune-news/38143-cause-zune-30-leapyear-problem-isolated.html
    Reply