Zune Extinction Event: Microsoft Music Players All Freeze Up at Once

And on the 366th day of the year, the music died.

Thousands of Zune portable media players made by Microsoft Corp. suddenly froze up early Wednesday, Dec. 31, labeling Internet wits to label the phenomenon "Z2K."

The model affected was the Zune 30, which sports a 30-gigabyte hard drive and was first released in November 2006, though it is still sold.

Later models, including the flash-memory-based Zune 4, Zune 8 and Zune 16, as well as the hard-drive-based Zune 80 and Zune 120, were spared.

"Apparently, around 2:00 AM today, the Zune models either reset, or were already off," one user wrote in to the Gizmodo tech blog early Wednesday. "Upon when turning on, the thing loads up and ... freezes with a full loading bar. I thought my brother was the only one with it, but then it happened to my Zune. Then I checked out the forums and it seems everyone with a 30GB HDD model has had this happen to them."

Some online techies recommended taking the thing apart, disconnecting both the battery and the hard drive, waiting a few seconds, then plugging them back in.

Later in the day, Microsoft finally figured it out. While writing some of the driver software, the world's biggest software company had forgotten to compensate for leap years.

The solution? Wait 24 hours until Jan. 1.

"We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT)," reads a posting on the official Zune support forums. "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."

Even then, there may be a pesky digital-rights-management issue.

"If you're a Zune Pass subscriber," the posting continues, "you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device."

The Microsoft posting promised a fix by the end of the next leap year in December 2012.

• Click here for the Microsoft Zune support posting.

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