Right, so this is a weird one: we're getting tons of reports—tons—about failing Zune 30s. Apparently, the players began freezing at about midnight last night, becoming totally unresponsive and practically useless. Update: The easy official fix here.
The crisis has been dubbed by Zune users 'Z2K9', due to the apparently synchronized faceplantings across the country. According to tipster Michael, the Zune users experienced something like this:
Apparently, around 2:00 AM today, the Zune models either reset, or were already off. Upon when turning on, the thing loads up and... freezes with a full loading bar (as pictured above). I thought my brother was the only one with it, but then it happened to my Zune. Then I checked out the forums and it seems everyone with a 30GB HDD model has had this happen to them
This report is consistently corroborated by literally hundreds of others across the various Zune support and fan forums.
What hasn't emerged yet, largely due to the fact that MS's support lines aren't yet open for the day, is why these devices are failing. The evidence seems to point to a software glitch, but simple resets aren't providing any relief. Some reports indicate that only Zunes with the latest firmware are affected, but this hasn't yet been confirmed.
The proximity of the events to the New Year, which inspired the Y2K9 moniker, provides little more than a colorful backdrop; 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).
If not for the uniform representation of events across the internet, I'd be tempted to suspect this as a hoax, but it just doesn't look that way. The story, assuming the described problem is of the magnitude reported, will probably take a turn for the large when the majority of Zuners start waking up. Let us know about your experiences in the comments. [Zunescene, ZuneBoards, Zune.net—Thanks, Michael, Josh, Ben and others]
Update: We've got a DIY fix to revive slain Zunes.
Update: Reader Bill Bradski (Bill Brasky?) has summed up the situation thusly:
Update 2: Here's Microsoft's official response for the time being (it's clear they just woke up and probably haven't even flipped on their coffee pots yet):
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. We will keep customers informed on next steps via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support).