For the few people in North America who bought a first generation Zune 30 portable media player, December 31, 2008 will be a day that lives in infamy. On that day, all Zune 30 devices fell silent after succumbing to a weird date-related bug. The fix was simple enough, however: Just wait until January 1, 2009. On that date, the sleeping Zunes awoke and worked normally again.
The flaw--which did not affect newer and better-selling Zune 4, 8, 16, 80, and 120 devices--was related to 2008 being a leap year, Microsoft says. "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," Microsoft wrote in a statement explaining the problem. "There is a bug in the internal clock driver causing the 30GB device to improperly handle the last day of a leap year ... It is a bug in a driver for a part that is only used in the Zune 30 device."
Microsoft began selling the Zune 30 in late 2006 but replaced that model with the Zune 4,8, and 80 in late 2007. The device was sold only in the United States and Canada, and according to market research firms, it never sold particularly well. Despite this, news of the Zune outage made major headlines in tech publications over the New Year's holiday, especially those dedicated to Apple and iPod-related products. For some reason, it was also widely reported in regions where Microsoft never even sold the device.