Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

The 2009 30GB Zunepocalypse. Don’t Panic.

Holy crap. It seems these days that no one wants to write about Microsoft unless something goes wrong. One look at Techmeme today, and you’d think that all the Zunes rose up at once, coming to life with the sole purpose of killing your mother.

In case you hadn’t heard yet, the 30GB Zune (and only that model, as far as anyone can tell) has some kind of bug that caused it to freeze on the boot up screen on December 31, 2008. Which I find interesting, since there is no (apparent) way to set the date on your Zune. But the DRM has to tell how long you have somehow, so I guess the internal calendar is managed by syncing with your computer.

I’ve seen the gamut of opinions today, from the downright stupid (“I’m going to die without music to listen to at work” [One can only hope…]) to the usual (M$ suxors, buy an iPod [recession… what recession?]) to the just plain incorrect (Microsoft’s official forums are at, not [hey Consumerist, it’s called fact-checking]). It’s really funny how derided the Zune is around the web, and how many people say that no one uses it, and yet the second it breaks down, there are apparently millions of users out there. Amazing how that works.

Microsoft knows about the problem, and is working on a fix. I took mine apart and pulled the battery, and now it works fine. It may very well work fine tomorrow. Who knows. In the meantime, there is no need to call tech support. Just be patient (I know, that’s a lot to ask these days) and they’ll have a solution soon.

UPDATE: Microsoft posted details of the problem and offered a solution. The problem was simply that the firmware was not able to handle a year with 366 days. The solution is, as I suspected, patience…

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.

Hopefully all those vitriolic users screaming about class action lawsuits and threatening suicide will have calmed down by then.

Posted on Dec 31 2008, 06:44 PM by Robert McLaws
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  • JoeM said:

    To many crazy people

    December 31, 2008 8:13 PM
  • Nick said:

    This is one of the weirdest bug i ever heard. I don't remember any other mp3 player bricked for a day because of a software bug.

    Ms's solution to the problem is : patience.

    Sorry, but why don't you just admit that this is a bug by ms , and their solution is not an acceptable one.

    December 31, 2008 9:41 PM
  • Actually, the bug was described by another website tonight, through source code posted by Freescale Electronics. The bug is in the date calculation, and happened because a loop said

    if (days < 366)

    instead of saying

    if (days <=366)

    so it got stuck in a loop on the last day of a leap year. It's really not all that farfetched.

    The solution was to let the calendar switch over to a new year, when the calculation would change again, and would not get caught in the loop.

    Yeah, its a dumb bug. But the response from the users was WAY dumber.

    December 31, 2008 11:40 PM
  • Aaron said:

    Robert if this was an iPod bug you would have been screaming the loudest at 'how they clearly cant ship anything right".

    January 1, 2009 7:33 PM
  • Generic guy said:

    The zune software sucks so much ass that I'm considering selling the POS and buying an Apple iPod.

    February 8, 2009 2:34 PM