Zune owners are a notoriously thin-skinned lot. It might have something to do with the Zune’s perpetual status as a third place also ran in the portable media player market. Or maybe it’s the fact that the Zune apparently borrows so much of it’s “innovation” from the world’s worst portable media player.
Whatever the reason for their prickly nature, Zune owners have a whole new reason to grumble. Early this morning every 30 GB Zune on the planet stopped working. You have to give Microsoft credit, this was an act of synchronized ritual suicide that has not been seen before in the consumer electronics business.
How does something like this happen with a mainstream product? Some have speculated that this could be a date problem related to the new year. In fact, many are already referring to this as the Z2K9 bug. But, if that’s the case then there’s a bug in Microsoft’s bug. You would expect a problem of this sort would manifest itself at midnight on New Years Eve, not the night before.
Zune owners have been known to crow about how Microsoft releases improvements to the Zune at no cost, as if firmware upgrades are something new and completely unique to Microsoft. Today’s glitch was, no doubt, an unannounced feature delivered in one of those free upgrades.
It’s entirely possible that this is some new feature that Microsoft is testing on Zune owners (who must be feeling more than a little like Microsoft’s pet lab rats). If everything goes well with this test perhaps Microsoft will introduce a similar feature to Windows Vista.
Joking aside, this sort of horrendous QA does raise questions about Microsoft’s other products.
For what it’s worth, Microsoft is said to be “aware” of the problem, a comment that brings to mind John McCain’s insistence that he was “aware of the Internet“. Let’s hope they’re not consulting with Joe the Plumber on the solution.
On a personal note, I have to thank Microsoft for this one. I’d almost made it trough the entirety of 2008 without writing a single word about the Zune. I’d nearly forgotten how much fun the Zune can be.
A bit of advice for Zune owners in 2009: next time buy a Sandisk.
UPDATE: Medialoper has confirmed that president-elect Obama’s Zune was unaffected by this unfortunate incident.