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).If you check the Zune support site, there is the additional detail that the "Zune Social might be slow or inaccessible". Given the volume of email from angry users that has likely been hitting Microsoft, it will be impressive if their servers can keep up. Users have coined terms for the condition: Zune 2K9 or the Midnight Meltdown. From the available reports, it sounds as though the problem is only happening with the original 30GB model and not later ones. The Baltimore Sun's David Zeiler has an amusing list of potential reasons for the crash, including planned obsolescence and a computer virus that only goes after products with minor market share.
For anyone, including Microsoft's beleaguered PR machine, looking for some kind of a positive spin, consider this: Now you know that all that investment in getting ready for Y2K wasn't such a waste of money after all.
[UPDATE: Apparently, Microsoft engineers have found the problem: "a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year," as explained in a second statement. They expect that the clocks will reset themselves as the date officially slides into 2009. Users are told to let the batteries run down, recharge them, and turn them back on. Zune Pass subscribers may have to resync their devices with their PCs.]
Brick image via Morguefile.com user Alvimann, site standard licensing terms.