The software maker says affected users need to drain their batteries and restart the device.
Microsoft says it has resolved a glitch that caused the 30-GB model of its Zune MP3 player to freeze up over the past week.
"You can go back to using your Zune!" the company said in a support note posted Thursday on its Web site. The note details steps that Zune owners should take to eliminate the bug by resetting their players.
Earlier this week, thousands of Zune users flooded blogs and support forums with reports that their devices had locked up. Microsoft traced the problem to a software bug that caused the Zune's internal clock to fail when switching from the past leap year to 2009, which is not a leap year.
To fix the problem, Microsoft advised users to unplug the Zune from its power source and allow the batteries to drain. "Wait until the battery is empty and the screen goes black," the company said in its support bulletin.
It then instructed users to power up the devices, but only after 7 a.m. Eastern time on New Year's Day Thursday. "No other action is required," said Microsoft.
However, the company added that Zune owners with copyright-protected songs might have to resync their devices with their PCs after rebooting in order to restore DRM files that allow the songs to be played.
Prior to Microsoft's posting of the fix, some Zune owners took matters into their own hands and turned to the Internet for help. One procedure for resolving the problem that made the rounds involved opening the device and disconnecting the battery in order to force a reset.
"This is a bad idea and we do not recommend opening your Zune by yourself," said Microsoft, noting that such a move would immediately void the warranty on the device.
The inability of Microsoft's engineers to anticipate a leap year is the latest black eye for the company, which has been stung by criticism of its unpopular Windows Vista operating system and by Xbox 360 hardware failures.
The glitch also won't help the Zune gain ground against Apple's popular iPod player, which controls more than 70% of the MP3 hardware market.
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