Modern Software Experience


All is Quiet on New Year’s Day

Early this morning I performed what has become a minor New Year’s Tradition. Just before midnight I turned on the stereo to let it warm up. Once most of the fireworks noise had died down, I sled U2’s War album (1983) into the CD tray, and let it play at a reasonable volume for a while. All this just builds anticipation for the tradition itself; blast track three at volume: All is Quiet on New Year’s Day…

iPod killer kills itself

New Year’s Day was very quiet for anyone who relied on a Microsoft Zune 30 GB for music playback. On 2008 Dec 31, these Zunes decided to die. All of them. That’s right, on one single day, the Zune 30 GB experienced a failure rate of 100 %.

It seemed unimaginable that Microsoft would ever outdo the epic failure rate of the XBOX, yet it just did it. Well, not really. The many XBOX failures are real hardware issues, this Zune problem is just a firmware issue.

Zune 30

The problem is specific to the first ever Zune, the Zune 30 GB model released in 2006. Other Zune models are not affected.

Dead Zune Day

2008 Dec 31 is Dead Zune Day, the day that the Zune 30 decided to perform a mass suicide. It is Zuneageddon. Some are calling this the Zune 2K9 problem, but it is not. It is the Zune 2K8 problem.

Zune 2K8

It is not the Zune 2K8 defect just because the problems arose in 2008, but because it really is a 2008 defect. It has to do with the Zune’s handling of leap years. That handling seems to work fine 365 days of the year, but 2008 Dec 31 is the 366th day of 2008. Somehow, defective internal date logic leads to the Zune freezing up completely.

Zune Revival

The good news is that all the dead Zune can be revived.

Microsoft’s immediate solution is to work around the defect. Zune 30 owners are advised to disconnect the Zune from all power sources (that includes USB cables), let the batteries drain completely and recharge it again.

A faster method is to open the Zune and take the batteries out for a few seconds, but opening the case does void your warranty.

2012 Dec 31

2008 Dec 31 is Dead Zune Day, but if Microsoft does not fix it, every last day of every leap year will be Dead Zune Day. Microsoft has not just promised to fix it before 2012 Dec 31. On the Zune forum thread about this issue, Matt Akers of the Zune Product Team actually promised to fix it before the next leap year (2012).

That bulletin board posting is provided "as is" with no warranties, and confers no rights, but nearly three years should be more than enough time for MS to release a well-tested firmware update.


2009-01-03 Toshiba Gigabeat S

The Microsoft Zune 30 GB design is based on the Toshiba Gigabeat S design. The Toshiba Gigabeat S has the same problem and the same workaround.

2011-04-22 discontinued

Microsoft seems to have discontinued the site late in 2010. The links have been removed.

2011-06-29 Gigabeat discontinued

Toshiba has discontinued the site. The link has been removed.



Microsoft Zune 30 GB