"It worked for me and it seems like it's working for customers," said Eskridge, who has one of the 30-gigabyte Zune players and was temporarily without service. "From the limited time I've looked on the forums, it seems customers have had good success with it."
But, by midmorning Thursday, a few people were still complaining on one online Zune forum about their devices not booting up. Most people on the forum said their devices were working, and they encouraged people who were still having problems to be patient and let their devices fully charge before powering them on again.
A day earlier when people turned on the 30-gigabyte model, the device would freeze and wouldn't fully boot up, meaning users couldn't play music, videos and games or transfer material between their PCs and the devices. Frustrated users lit up Microsoft's online support forum for Zunes with more than 2,500 messages by Wednesday afternoon.
Eskridge said the problem involved a bug in the model's internal clock driver that was related to how the device handles the extra day during a leap year. Last year was a leap year. When 2008 ended and 2009 began Thursday, the internal clock automatically reset, he said.
"I don't know the technical details beyond that," Eskridge said Thursday. "I just know it didn't function yesterday."
The problem did not affect users of other Zune models, he said. Eskridge did not have exact figures on how many people own the 30-gigabyte model.
More than 3 million Zune players ranging in storage capacity from 4 gigabytes to 120 gigabytes were sold from November 2006, when the devices were first launched, to November 2008, Eskridge said. The 30-gigabyte model was the first model launched and was generally available until November 2007, but hasn't been since then, he said.
The Zune media player is Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft's answer to Apple Inc.'s iPod. The Zune ranges in price from $99 to $249 depending on storage capacity.
Zunes have paltry popularity compared the iPod, which owns nearly three-quarters of the MP3 market, compared with Zune's single-digit market share, according to statistics from the NPD Group. But some users are fiercely loyal, and newer Zunes have gotten positive reviews.