December 31st, 2008, The Day The Zunes Stood Still

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Apparently all 1st Gen 30G Zunes with the latest firmware update from Microsoft died at midnight, pacific time last night.
None are booting up past the loading screen.
Even people that had theirs on listening to it…

Son of a B….., Right in the middle of Shine on you Crazy Diamond mine crapped out too.

…or hooked up to the computer charging report that their Zune suddenly crashed, rebooted, and froze up.

People have let their battery run down all the way to where it died, plugged it back in, and it is still not working. People have even tried a hard reset, nothing seems to be working

Well, I Pulled the Battery, and Used a Wall USB Plug and plugged my zune to that, and it booted to the main “Unlock Screen” and locked up, then I rebooted, and it cleared contents, asked me to re-install everything, and now its blank, stuck on a black screen, then i rebooted and back to lockup on the logo… nice..

What’s more is that since tonight and tomorrow are holidays, there will be nothing more then a skeleton crew working tech support at Microsoft, and I am 100% positive that their programmers aren’t working, so Zune owners will be getting the extra long shaft and probably won’t see any way to fix it until some time next week (my speculation).

The failures all occurred 24 hours before the new year roll over. I wonder what happened?

You know… if Apple was really on the ball here, they should JUMP at this opportunity. Run a fast hard advertisement telling people they can bring in their frozen 30G Zune to any Apple store, trade it in for a discount on any iPod/iPhone they have.
Could you imagine…

I hope I’m not alone in seeing the hilarity in this. It’s like Microsoft is giving a big fuck you to everyone who bought a Zune.

Oh well… I don’t have one. Back to listening to my iPod.

(More Updates After The Break)

[Update 1]
Microsoft as acknowledged the problem with a posting on the Zune support site:

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 2]
Further speculation has come out that this may be a leap year issue since today is day 366 of the year. Could MS have fucked up something so trivial?

[Update 3]
A MS employee posted this on the MS Zune forums:

Hey folks. Brian [MossyRoc] from the Zune team here. We realize there is an issue with the Zune 30 and a team is working hard right now to isolate the issue and develop a plan. I will be providing you with updates as I can. I [we] appreciate your patience, I realize this is an inconvenience and we are working hard to remedy the issue.


[Final Update]
Just as I suspected, the leap year was the root cause of the issue. All Zunes will return to normal tomorrow.
Here is Microsoft’s official statement on the situation:

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? How many Zune 30GB devices were sold?

All 30GB devices are potentially affected.