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Zune and Windows. A match made in heaven?
I was having some trouble getting my Microsoft Zune to connect with my Microsoft Windows 7 computer. "That's queer," I thought. "Aren't they the same company?"

I tried the usual steps. I tried rotating between the three USB ports on the front of my computer (in the past doing this ritual one or two times always got it to connect). This time, it wasn't doing it - not even in the ports on the back of the computer.

This didn't work, so my next instinct was to open Device Manager and find the entry for my Zune. I right-click and Uninstall, then unplug and re-plug the USB. Sometimes I have to do this with my "plug-and-play" devices, although the irony of this wore off on me about 8 years ago.

Still nothing? Okay, it must be a problem with the driver. I go in and tell it to Update Driver. Even though my Zune is definitely not connected, Windows still believes that the best possible driver is already installed.

Then I tell Windows to let me choose the driver to install - an older version that's sitting on my computer for some reason. It installs, and still doesn't connect.

Hardball. Now I go to Programs and Features (or, as it was much better titled in XP, Add/Remove Programs) and uninstall Zune. One wrinkle: The uninstaller tells me I must disconnect my device before proceeding. Wait a minute, you know my Zune is connected but you can't connect to it? Fine, fine, whatever, unplug. Then I reinstall from a fresh download. The installer also tells me to disconnect my device.

New Zune software installed, and I prepare for all my disc art and ID3 tags to be fucked up afresh. But it still didn't fix the driver.

This time, I uninstall again, and I connect the Zune to see if the driver is being left installed after the software is gone. It is. The craptacular search engine in Windows 7 points me to my System32/DriverStore. Even though I am running as an administrator, I cannot delete driver files from this folder. I have to use a tool called pnputil.exe to "force delete" a "package" containing the driver. Oh, and I can't just tell it to delete zune.inf, I have to generate a list and find a Protable Media driver version 4.7.whatever by Microsoft (no "Zune" anywhere in the description).

Right about now, I am wondering what the engineers at Microsoft were thinking when they chose not to make this MP3 player mount as a STORAGE DEVICE. But, on I go.

I plug in my Zune, and—success—oh, not in getting the player to connect, but in getting the player not to install any driver. The system is now Zune driver free and for all purposes totally clean.

Reinstall. Fail. Headdesk.

I do more searching and come across a tool called UnZoone.exe that removes every trace of the Zune installation. I try it out and it looks good, but doesn't fix my problem.

At this point it's about 3 AM on a work night, so I turn in.

Today, I pick up where I left off. While I was at work, I tried connecting my Zune to my XP Corporate x86 laptop, truly a "best case" scenario. Although the first try leaves me with the standard issue of needing to Uninstall, disconnect, and reconnect, it does work. The player and the USB cable are fine.

I get home and look for more direction. One forum poster (by the way, Zune's forum pages cannot be linked from Google results; if you are coming from Google you must go past a splash screen and use the Microsoft Search) advises disconnecting a USB media card reader. Ooh, I have one of those, and it is a cheap dodgy one. I try disabling the unit in Device Manager first, but of course that is not good enough. I open up my tower and pull the plug on it. It still is not fixed.

Finally, I find a page that tells me to check my Event Log. I open it up, and find a message about "It was not possible to access the device () after installing drivers." At least it's a new error message. Two relevant Google posts, both on the Zune forum, both posts weren't cached by Google and can't be found by the Microsoft Search. I keep digging around, looking at posts from people with the same issue with completely different devices like external hard drives.

More searching brings me to this seemingly totally unrelated post: ERROR_WMI_INSTANCE_NOT_FOUND. The advice, buried about 12 posts down, is to download a tool called "SubInACL" and run a shell script (copy and pasted from the message, of course) to reset the "Access Control Lists" on the keys in my registry. All the millions of them. I watch all the registry keys fly by. I plug my Zune in, and the Zune software opens and syncs. Wait... that was it? Fuck. Finally.

And... that is the story of how I made my Microsoft Zune work with Microsoft Windows.


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