Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zune Y2K8 Global Meltdown (1st Gen 30GB) (AKA Z2K)

UPDATE: My Zune now works.  The MSFT people "jumped onto the problem" and came up with the precise technical solution of telling us to wait and see if all is good come Jan 1st 2009.  So they worked really hard to tell us to do nothing and excuse their error.

They need to make amends and win back the group of users that the likely have lost due to this mistake.

Also why does the Zune have an internal calendar anyway?  What purpose does it serve? Perhaps for syncing....would have been nice if they gave a real explanation.

I am a rabid user of my Zune.  I bought it on woot last year for $99 and have greatly enjoyed it.  I use it to listen to about 20 regular podcasts, house my music collection and photos, and keep tons of videos on it (especially useful with the TV out to have movies to entertain my kids just in case when at other people's houses).

So this morning I was listening to the zune without problem as I went to work.  I even showed some xmas photos to some coworkers right after I arrived.  However, soon after 9 AM in Spain (where I live) I tried to listen to the Slate weekly Gabfest and the device rebooted but froze in the bootup screen.  I just sat there with the loading bar full but non responsive.  None of the normal reset options were working.

Quickly I found some recent forum posts in Google and saw that this was d-day around the world for the 1st Gen 30 GB zune.  Later generation zunes seem unaffected.

I was able to fix the problem by unplugging the battery.  To do so:
  • Remove the clip covering the connector port
  • Remove the 2 small Phillips screws
  • Gently open the case (I used a credit card) starting from the bottom and moving to the top slowly
  • Unclip the battery connector (small ribbon coming from black battery)
  • Let it sit for 10 seconds
  • Reconnect everything by following the above instructions in reverse order
It will be interesting to see how MSFT responds to this disaster.  I sure hope that they make things right for their loyal users.  Giving freely the firmware updates to all users was a very smart move in my opinion (unlike some others who charge for their updates ).  Now they need to continue in that direction and do the following:
  1. Make a big public apology
  2. Get a fix out ASAP via firmware update
  3. Offer some good compensation (Free $ for music in their marketplace or decent discount on new device)
If they do not do this correctly:
  • They will have a big PR problem - the last thing they need is to hurt the Zune brand, especially if they are looking to expand it to mobile (for other branding problems see Vista)
  • They will undermine one of their differentiating factors against Apple.  Apple basically screws ignores its users and makes most pay for updates or ignores them completely (hello copy/paste in iTouch)
  • They will lose a large group of potential repeat purchasers that feel alienated and have lost their trust in MSFT.
Some of the more active forum threads: