Zunes crash – but it’s a bug, not a virus


Yesterday, December 31st 2008, owners of Microsoft’s Zune MP3 player found that their devices were freezing at start-up.

The internet was bombarded by reports from 30GB Zune owners, concerned that their MP3 player may have been stricken by an astonishingly delayed variant of the Y2K bug or something more sinister.

Grunfloz summarised the issue pretty neatly on the Zune.net forum:

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From what I can tell it looks like every Zune 30 on the planet has suddenly crashed. Is this a virus? A glitch? A time bomb? A disgruntled Microsoft employee? Planned obsolescence to make us buy a new one? Or just a terrorist plot to drive the free world crazy?

The reality was, as normal, rather more down-to-earth. It seems when the boffins at Microsoft created the Zune in 2006, they didn’t tell it how to handle leap years properly. So when the last day of the next leap year came around in 2008 it got its knickers in a twist.

Microsoft says the problem will resolve itself as the date clicks around to January 1st in your part of the world. For more information read Microsoft’s FAQ.

By the way, happy new year everyone!

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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