Microsoft Says Leap Year Bug Caused Zune Failures

Picture this: You're gearing up to create a killer playlist on your 30GB Zune for your annual New Year's bash. All of a sudden, your Zune locks up, reboots itself, and freezes. What the heck is going on?

In September, Microsoft released the Zune 3.0 software and firmware update along with its newest hardware, the Zune 120GB and 16GB models. At the time, Microsoft mentioned that it would be phasing out the older models slowly--but the company didn't say the change would be this dramatic.

As early as yesterday evening, reports of 30GB Zunes crashing began to surface on Microsoft support forums and gadget blogs. Microsoft updated the Zune support Web site with the following acknowledgement: "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!"

We contacted a Microsoft spokesperson, who confirmed the issue with this official statement:

"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'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 zune.net (zune.net/support).
"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."

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