[Update: Microsoft says the problem will resolve itself as son as the calendar flips over to 2009 later tonight. Details in this follow-up post.]
If you own a 30GB Zune player (the original hard drive model, released in November 2006), you got an unpleasant surprise this morning when you tried to turn it on. As many users have reported on the Zune forums, the player starts up normally, the status bar goes to 100%, and then it freezes. At that point the device is completely inoperable.
The problem appears to be date-related, and Microsoft as of 7:00AM Pacific time has a note on its Zune service status page noting that they are aware of the issue and are working to correct it.
I can confirm that the issue does not affect other Zune models, only the Zune 30 with upgraded firmware. My Zune 80GB player works just fine, and the Zune service and software are unaffected as well.
One post on the Zune forums claims that the issue can be resolved by removing the battery and doing a hard reset. That’s a tricky process that involves some risk of breaking the plastic piece that covers the Zune cable connector. In addition, it’s unclear that it actually solves anything, as other forum participants report that the problem returns as soon as the supposedly repaired device is reconnected to the PC.
And as an aside, I think the customers who are outraged and threatening class action lawsuits need to relax. Yes, it’s an embarrassing issue, but it appeared to start around midnight Pacific time during a holiday week. Microsoft responded publicly with a statement less than seven hours later. That’s not an unreasonable initial response time. Now we’ll see how long it takes for a fix to arrive.
I’ll update this post when Microsoft releases more information or if I learn anything more.
Update: On Twitter, ZuneInsider says: “We really are trying to get to the botton [sic] this ASAP. thanks for the patience.”
Another Twitter update, from around noon Pacific time: “hey folks. we are making progress and close to being able to ID the issue for you all – just running thru additional checks and testing“