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The day Microsoft's Zunes stood still

It wasn't exactly the day the Earth stood still, but for some Microsoft Zune users, it might as well have been when their mp3 players (specifically, the 30 gigabyte models) all crashed at the same time earlier today, rendering them useless. You see, once the Zune freezes, it can't be reset.

"It seems the issue started to happen as devices passed midnight locally across the world, though times don't seem to be exactly synchronized," according to Huliq.com, a blog owned by Hareyan Publishing LLC, in Hickory, N.C.

Conspiracy theories explaining why this happened hit the Web early Wednesday. A Huliq.com blogger known only as "Iria" mused that the "Z2K9" problem began as the Zune devices prepared to flip over to the new year, the first leap year since the 30GB Zune was introduced. (By the way, Iria suggests waiting for Microsoft to weigh in on the problem before turning your Zune into an expensive paperweight.)

Gizmodo.com dismisses this, pointing out that " it's unlikely that the switching of years in the Zune's internal calendar has anything to do with the failures (besides, it hasn't even happened yet)." More likely, the problem is a glitch in the software Microsoft downloaded to Zune customers.

In a message posted today on Zune.net, Microsoft apologizes to 30GB Zune customers and thanks them for their "patience," noting that it's aware of and "working to correct" the problem.

Not exactly the way Microsoft would have liked its mp3 offering to end the year, particularly as it struggles to compete with Apple's potent iPod franchise. Apple plans to get its iPod brand off to a quick start in 2009, with a new and smaller version of the iPod Shuffle, possibly shipping before April, according to financial service firm Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, Inc.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

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