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View Full Version : Update on the Zune "Z2K" fiasco


accumulator
Jan 4, 2009, 09:46 PM
I was curious about the bug, and so I went to the "zunescene.com" website to see if they had anything to say about it. Right at the top of the home page is the following text:

"...Update 3: Any programming gurus out there may want to take a peek at the guilty source code and suggest a fix so this doesn't happen again in 4 years. Interestingly line 59 of the the code suggests Zune will cease to function in 2080 once and for all. Bummer."

I looked at the code, which is linked from that statement, and it appears that their analysis is correct. The software was deliberately written so that in the year 2080, the zune will cease to operate - for absolutely no reason other than that some bonehead at Microsoft decided to put in a check for a date way out in the future. Now, I don't know - there may be some issue with some bit of hardware or firmware that will cause the thing to fail - but I suspect not, because it probably wouldn't fail in exactly 100 years - and even if it did, it's not as though this check appears to invoke a graceful failure mode. It just bricks your device, for NO APPARENT REASON.

I can't believe that it's not actually criminal to sell a device that will purposefully brick itself and not divulge that information to buyers. Any thoughts? Anyone for taking up a class action case on behalf of all 12 Zune owners?

Nermal
Jan 4, 2009, 10:22 PM
The "bad" code is apparently from Freescale, not Microsoft.

iToaster
Jan 4, 2009, 10:39 PM
I'd advise you to try and find anyone who still owns and uses their Zune from the present in 2080. I'm sure nobody loves the thing so much as to keep it functioning for around 70 years... assuming they don't die then. Also, I'm sure a team of Microsoft programmers are hard at work to make sure this doesn't happen again.

NC MacGuy
Jan 4, 2009, 11:24 PM
So that one they sent into space with the DVD's and gold maps of earth will not help save humanity when found by friendly aliens? All hopes are dashed.:mad:


Or they better find it relatively quickly.:p

accumulator
Jan 5, 2009, 10:11 AM
...a damn fine idea.

and although I was making a joke about the class action suit, I am still incredulous that someone could sell a product that is hardwired to become non-functional at a set time / date, without providing any notification to the purchaser. We're not talking about a bug, where someone was simply not thinking far enough ahead and an error condition occurs (e.g., Y2K compliance in apps written in the 1980s). This is a design decision that was specifically and positively incorporated in the device for no apparent practical reason except to cause it to stop working on a date certain.

No, I don't think that there's going to be a lot of disappointed Zune users 70 years from now. I expect that if there are any left, they'll be landfill or museum pieces - so maybe the curator of a museum will cry when his Zune fails. Still, it's just so wrong to program in a time bomb like that - it offends my sensibilities.

NC MacGuy
Jan 5, 2009, 02:23 PM
...a damn fine idea.

and although I was making a joke about the class action suit, I am still incredulous that someone could sell a product that is hardwired to become non-functional at a set time / date, without providing any notification to the purchaser. We're not talking about a bug, where someone was simply not thinking far enough ahead and an error condition occurs (e.g., Y2K compliance in apps written in the 1980s). This is a design decision that was specifically and positively incorporated in the device for no apparent practical reason except to cause it to stop working on a date certain.

No, I don't think that there's going to be a lot of disappointed Zune users 70 years from now. I expect that if there are any left, they'll be landfill or museum pieces - so maybe the curator of a museum will cry when his Zune fails. Still, it's just so wrong to program in a time bomb like that - it offends my sensibilities.

Hell, I'd like to leave Excel or Word open for more than 4 hours at a time without activity and not have my processors rail - forcing the inevitable "force quit" BS.

gkarris
Jan 5, 2009, 03:48 PM
I would like to see if, in 2080, an original Zune will still operate... :eek:

Unfortunately, I'll be dead by then... :p

Bet you anything that my 1.5 Gen 10 Gig iPod in my collection will... :)

remmy
Jan 5, 2009, 05:36 PM
I wonder if there are any similar hidden codes in other devices.

I do wonder why my mp3 player (Iriver H300) occassionaly makes a album unplayable so that I need to copy the original mp3 files over again.

Sesshi
Jan 6, 2009, 04:39 AM
One of the perils of time-locked DRM I guess. Any flaws in the clock becomes a hell of a lot more critical if you have to engineer your product to depend on its function to protect the contents of the unit.

I realise that you can't realistically offer an 'all-you-can-eat' service without charging thousands a year in a current pricing model or through DRM, but all the more reason to get stuff like this right.

johnmartin78
Jan 9, 2009, 08:26 AM
lol Zune.....

leishan
Jan 9, 2009, 02:25 PM
So that one they sent into space with the DVD's and gold maps of earth will not help save humanity when found by friendly aliens? All hopes are dashed.:mad:


Or they better find it relatively quickly.:p

The clock is ticking...hehe

notjustjay
Jan 9, 2009, 03:16 PM
I'm sure the folks in 2080 will be familiar with the "set your clock backwards" trick.