The tool, introduced Thursday on Microsoft's online download center, requires either Windows Vista or Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher. The software is 250 Kbytes and is available in English, French, and Spanish.
To use the tool, Zune owners first open the device's software on the PC, run the ZuneDevices.exe tool, connect the player, and wait for any errors to be displayed, Microsoft said. For USB connections, people should watch for the Zune to appear in the device manager under portable devices. For wireless connections, they should use the settings-wireless-sync now on the device and wait for the Zune to display an error, usually one or two minutes after displaying "connecting to PC."
After disconnecting the device, people should click on the report tab of the tool, then click "save as" and save a copy of the report text. The file should then be sent to Microsoft's Product Support Services for analysis.
Microsoft launched the Zune last year to take on Apple's iPod, which dominates the market for portable media players. Microsoft upgraded the product line in time for the holiday shopping season this year with 4-Gbyte, 8-Gbyte, and 80-Gbyte models that were slimmer, sleeker, and sexier-to-the-touch than the original Zune, which some critics described as a "plastic brick."
In tightly integrating the Zune with its own online store and software for managing music and video, Microsoft copied Apple's strategy with the iPod and its iTunes software and store. Like Apple, Microsoft has chosen to make it difficult for people who buy content from the Zune Marketplace to play the files on other digital players.