Zune chokes on leap-year bug

Microsoft’s Zune 30GB music player just wasn’t ready for a leap year.

That’s what owners of the devices discovered Wednesday morning when they awoke to find their players frozen and unworkable.

The problem turned out to be “a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year,” Microsoft Zune spokesman Matt Akers said in a posting to Zune forums Wednesday. The issue does not affect all Zune players, but all models of the Zune 30GB are potentially affected, he said.

Zune is Microsoft’s alternative to Apple’s popular iPod devices.

The bug disabled the players on Dec. 31, the last day of a leap year. Microsoft expects that the bug will resolve itself by Thursday Jan. 1, when the device’s internal clock will reset itself.

“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,” Akers said. “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.”

For those who can’t wait that long, Microsoft support engineer Corey Gouker has posted instructions on how to fix the problem on his personal blog. But he doesn’t recommend that people follow them, as they involve opening the player, which voids the warranty.

Microsoft says it will issue a bugfix for the device so that this problem won’t re-occur in 2012, the next leap year.

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