On New Year’s Eve, reports began flooding across the Internet that Microsoft’s Zune media player was experiencing a worldwide meltdown, leaving Zune owners across the globe angry and confused. The glitch, caused by software that did not account for the extra day in the 2008 leap year, affected only the 30GB Zune models released in mid-November of 2006.
By the middle of the day, Microsoft had responded to the issue, posting an entry on the Zune FAQ Web page asking users to disconnect their Zune from USB and AC power sources, allow the battery to drain, wait until after noon GMT on Jan. 1, 2009 and then reconnect the media player.
“You can go back to using your Zune!” the posting exclaimed. But some owners couldn’t. As it turns out, Microsoft had to update the post with a note on DRM (digital rights managed) content:
“Most likely, rights-managed content will not be affected by this issue,” the posting read. “However, it’s a good idea to sync your Zune with your computer once the freeze has been resolved, just to make sure your usage rights are up to date.”
Microsoft also attempted to discourage those who turned to Internet forums to resolve the issue, telling Zune owners that advice regarding battery removal in order to reset the device was “a bad idea” and doing so would will void the warranty.
According to posted reports on various Zune forums, the devices began freezing after the startup status bar reached 100 percent. A message from Microsoft addressing the issue was slow in coming, prompting a slew of angry messages on forums across the Web.
Since the device’s loudly trumpeted debut in November 2006, the would-be iPod killer has struggled to find a foothold in the market, while Apple’s rival music player has continued to lead the MP3 player market. As of May 2008 slightly more than 2 million Zunes had been sold, according to Jason Reindorp, Zune’s director of product marketing. In that same period, sales of Apple’s iPod reached 76 million.