Zune can't party like it's 2009

Why are MP3 players so hard to get right? A few months ago, my year-and-a-half-old and largely babied iPod 5.5G gave up the ghost. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised; after all, Steve Jobs thinks we should all be buying iPods "at least once a year," ostensibly to stay on top of Apple's latest innovations. Uhuh.

So I switched to a poo-brown Zune 30 that I had sitting around. I'm not a huge Zune fan—it's too big for my tastes, and the battery life is quite poor. However, the latest firmware update improved the device's already excellent interface, and for a few months at least, all was well. That is, until this morning, when the Zune refused to boot up. I tried to reset the device, but that didn't help. Neither did plugging it into my PC. And I'm not alone.

It turns out that an epidemic of failures is cascading across the Zune 30 landscape. Rumor has it that the failures are tied to the hardware clock inside the device, which supposedly didn't deal well with the lead up to the new year. Microsoft has at least acknowledged the issue, posting the following on its official Zune support site:

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!

There are a few resurrection tips floating around, including warranty-voiding battery removal. Resetting your PC's clock and disabling the Windows Time Service and all Zune-related services and applications apparently helps, too, but I'm in no mood to experiment. I shouldn't have to.

So now I'm down to my Sansa Clip, which is mercifully working. For now.

Update — It appears that Microsoft has isolated the issue. A driver bug is apparently jacking with the Zune's internal clock, which will automatically reset itself by noon tomorrow, GMT. And then, like magic, Zune 30s should rise from the dead.

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