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Quick Hits: Microsoft's Z2K Meltdown


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Last night around midnight PST, users of Zune -- Microsoft's (MSFT) also-ran MP3 player --experienced something not uncommon for Microsoft products: They crashed.

Users who reported device failures all describe a similar scenario: The Zune 30 player had shut off or reset on its own. After switching it on, users saw the typical load screen - but the device froze in the course of booting. At that point, there's nothing that can be done to reach a menu screen.

Zune owners have flocked to message boards and tech websites to report the outage, dubbing the event "Z2K" and "Z2K9," given that the meltdown happened just at the start of New Year's Eve. Given the date of the occurrence, some are attributing the shutdown to the end of the 2008 leap year, suggesting that crucial 366th day might have created fatal errors in the program. However, no official cause has been reported.

In response to the deluge of complaints, Microsoft released the following statement: "We are aware that customers with the Zune 30GB are experiencing issues with their Zune device. We are actively working now to isolate the issue and develop a solution to address it." The company says the Zune support page will provide technical assistance - as soon as it becomes available.

But the problem appears to be beyond anything that can be addressed with a simple patch.

As of now, Microsoft has yet to release an official fix; however, has posted a DIY method of getting your Zune back up and running. But a word of warning for the technically inept: It involves opening up the device and disconnecting the hard drive and battery - a highly risky venture that also voids your warranty.

Then again, Microsoft caused the problem. If the company balks at honoring your warranty, remember - they made you do it.
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