Rant: How Microsoft Are Killing Themselves (and Me) With Regional Restrictions

| January 6, 2013 | 51 Replies

wp_ss_20130106_0001Before I start allow me to make one thing absolutely clear; I HATE regional restrictions with a passion that burns hotter than the sun. I understand that in some instances it’s a must (such as Music streaming apps due to licensing issues, i.e. Nokia Music or Video streaming such as Netflix etc.), but it still gets on my nerves A LOT!

And it seems the folks over at Redmond are dead on intent on boiling my nerves, as the regional selection of apps for the MEA and Gulf areas is beyond ridiculous (and it definitely doesn’t help that there aren’t that many apps to start with). The app selection is limited by some idiotic system that doesn’t seem to have any basis at all; and to make things even worse reviews, change-logs and screenshots aren’t shared throughout different marketplaces (example: Whatsapp on my marketplace only has 3 ratings vs. the thousands on the UK/US marketplace).

Further complicating things is the limited payment options for different marketplaces; whereas most marketplaces have the ability to use a paypal card, Visa Card and sometimes Vouchers; Gulf & MEA marketplaces only accept bank cards, and the bank card MUST match the region you’re buying from (meaning I can’t purchase apps from the UK marketplace using a Jordanian bank card.

Now according to @windowsPhoneSupport (the official support account for WP) these app restrictions and removal from regional markets is a choice done by the developer and not by Microsoft  which I personally find extremely hard to believe, what sort of app developer would choose to limit his app availability/coverage? Especially when it comes to games that require no online/regional connectivity?

The really disturbing part about this is I’m not referring to little known apps/titles; but MAJOR titles and applications (you know the ones Microsoft keeps boasting they have 48/50 from iOS and Android?); for example here’s a simple list of apps not available in multiple marketplaces (compiled by @nabkawe5):

Essential Apps (don’t work on the Lumia 920 although they’re not region specific in nature)


PDF Reader





Must have games (Don’t work on the Lumia 920 in Saudi Arabia although they are available on other platforms )

Words With Friends

Cut The Rope



The Sims 3



Xbox SmartGlass

Doodle Jump

Fruit Ninja

Final Fantasy

Sonic CD

Contre Jour

Plants vs. Zombies

Endomondo Sports Tracker

The list goes on but it’s too sad to continue it …

List VIA: http://www.nabkawe.com/wp/sad-list-of-apps-that-do-not-work-on-my-lumia-920-in-saudi-arabia/

As you can see most of these apps are completely region independent; and have no reason to be blocked in some regional marketplaces; so i don’t care who’s fault it is (be it MSFT or the developers) get your $h!t together people, this is ridiculous…

(oh BTW Angry Birds Star-wars is also unavailable).

Point is as dismal as the Windows Phone marketplace is; developers MSFT aren’t making it any better, especially in markets like the Gulf which are fresh for picking (trust me people in the Gulf love finding new trends to jump on, and have no problem switching phones on a monthly basis, so there’s some free market-share right there, if only someone would people their stuff together).



Category: Applications, Lumia, Nokia, Rant, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, my name's Ali- Currently a fifth (and final) year Dental Student from Chicago; studying in Jordan. I love all sorts of gadgets almost as much as I love my cookies! Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @AliQudsi and Subcribe to my Youtube for the latest videos - no pressure. Thanks.
  • Bhairav

    Regional restriction is a problem in google play as well
    for example Doodle jump app availible in india and on nexus 7 but not on both
    many other apps are also like this
    Guess Google play’s 700000 thousand applications are not available in every country and on every latest device

  • Andre

    Part of it may have to do with Billing, tax law differences and loads of others legal implications re: censoring and data monitoring are possible and loads of others.

    • KT

      You can say that to Apple.

      • SmoledMan

        Apple has had a lot more time to secure all the licensing with iTunes Store then Microsoft has had with their content stores. Years in fact. I’m pretty sure that these regional issues will be mostly gone in a year.

    • Jiipee

      Billing and tax law issues I dont believe at all. After all, the dev gets fully paid by MS, hence, there should be no issue for an individual dev only MS store in general.

      Btw what is the status of operator billing?

      • JGrove303

        Carrier billing is go for AT&T NAM.

      • No Carrier billing in gulf/MEA marketplaces.

    • Deep Space Bar

      that still shouldn’t give them a reason to make regional apps when the world is diverse…if they can make the OSs with multi languages,then can make one app for each platform and just make it adapt to the language settings of the user

  • JGrove303

    Nokia Reading is not available in NAM, I had to get it from the UK market. DoDonPachi Maximum is also no available here, which was a big selling point for me initially for WP.

    The same ‘ish was the case with S^3, all developers had to do was hit a check mark on where they wanted their apps deployed.

    It is frustrating!

  • c0br4

    how about switching the region under: settings > reagion + language? doesn’t this work?

    • JGrove303

      It works, but then that region has different billing set ups

      • v.s.i

        Only free apps FTW! 😀

  • rstyknight17

    Yeahhh , I hear youse , it`s intensely irritating !

  • Mee tooo i cant find some games and apps that are available in the US and the UK but they are not available in my country Bahrain :'(

  • Welcome to my world (that’d be Hungary) too. As well as to Android, really. ^-^ I’ve been wishing all my life that companies would actually start working on making a global phenomenon (ie. the internet) actually global. I mean, idk about others, but I’m pulling my hair out every single time when there’s a “worldwide premiere” of something and then I want to go watch/listen/download myself only to get such a message shoved in my face. Like, FFS, there are countries outside the US/Canada/UK as well… >_<

  • Ali Abdulla

    -so how do u change the region? within the OS settings, flash(that would suck, navifirm shutting down..)?

    -and if successful, will you be able to access the US/UK store from the MEA? or do i have to change my ip and stuff :S..

    -and finally do those store accept paypal/CC from a MEA bank account?

    • If you want to change your region you would need to change the country of your LiveID or MS account. The country assigned to that account determines what you see and what you can buy AFAIK.

      Change the country associated with your MS ID and you should be sorted.

      • In wp 7.5 the only way to change your location was to reset your phone and sign in from a different ID set up from another location (in other words marketplace was I’d dependent, with no option to select the country).

        I ranted about that a while back here: http://mynokiablog.com/2012/08/01/rant-why-windows-phone-live-account-linking-is-evil/

        However in wp8 it is much easier you can change your marketplace location from the settings and simply reboot the phone, (you can do this to switch between marketplace and gather as many apps as you like- but it’s tedious, annoying and you can’t purchase apps)

        • Knew I forgot to write something. Exactly, you need to reset your device and either sign in with a new (or existing) account that has a different country set to it, for WP7.x. Or you need to change the country your ID has registered. That last one is a big pain in the butt however. Seen quite a lot of early adopters get stuck on a US or UK ID because other countries didn’t support WP at that time.

          Tried to change it in the 920 I have here, but can’t do it. There is no option to change anything in the settings. The only listed as ‘store’ takes me to a pincode setting menu for the store.

  • lumianer

    App called “hunter” costs 422.99 € !!!

  • Deep Space Bar

    bbbbbbhahahahhaa leave it to them to kill themselves…they’ve been doing for years… nothing new…you guys just haven’t seen the B***s*** most of us have seen with microsoft….because we aren’t using their products anymore

    Moderated comment: Please keep language PG so it doesn’t have to get manually changed/approved. Thank you.

    • viipottaja

      Back in black.

  • Ali please , if there’s a solution for this nonsense please reply or post a new post on MNB . 😐

  • hary536

    I think, recently there was an article on WPcenteral that Msft are looking into a solution for this regional settings issue. Though I think that article mentioned Xbox, but I believe it will apply to several other things too.

  • Ere oli aliarvostettu

    I bet people just may blame Elop for this.

    Developers may have reasons for not selling some applications in some countries.

    Economical, political, religious or some other reasons.

    I know some developers release the app or application first only in selected countries. This makes it easier to take care of bugs and customer feedback. I’ve also heard that some developers wish to sell apps or applications only to countries with people sufficiently fluent in English. This may be a bit unusual.

    One reason may be server capacity. Adding slowly more countries may be smart.

    While I know it’s sometimes frustrating that you can’t get some application in some area, availability in different regions should be decided by the developer.

    • GordonH

      You must be genius at loving Elop… again Wow

  • stylinred

    Was never a fan of regional restrictions it makes no sense to me especially when its an issue of advertising revenue etc (tv shows, apps)

    if we’re moving towards globalization, 1world, etc then these restrictions should have long been removed

    • JGrove303

      Ya, us poor Yankees can’t watch Trailer Park Boys on the channels website because we’re not Canadian! Pfft.Bullocks!

  • torcida

    just a suggestion @ all of you:

    go an buy yourself a N9!! And let us change their strategy!!!!
    MeeGo FTW!!!

    • viipottaja

      Yup, dead platform is always a good choice.

      • Wilt

        stay classy >.>

      • rustyknight17

        torcida , with u ! Viipottaja , dead platform ? Perhaps u should call Jolla mobile and explain this to them …

  • Nokia4evr

    Even the apps like Pandora, Netflix, Google Earth are not available in Google play for India

    • JGrove303

      India’s android base alone would kill all three of those servers.

      There’s too many of you people

  • mushfiq

    I hate this problem on my wp too, wat is wrong wit microsoft cant get it.

  • senshi

    Regional restriction is not MS (or even Google and Apple’s) choice – it’s the content holders and the different laws of the country which dictates this. Ranting/complaining to MS won’t change anything, they are just as powerless to do anything about it as you are because they are held hostage by the content holders like music labels and movie studios which insist that regional restriction is in place or else they won’t join the party.

  • Mohammad

    have a paypal account, set your region to US & Canada and download/buy any app you wish but it’s not guarantee that app will work once you set back your region. I did it for Nokia Music which is not available in MEA, after installation I can’t get store or Mix Tape, Nokia told me your region is determined from your Sim Location.. how silly.

    I am also having big time issue with Xbox Music, currently it is working because my live ID is connected with two payments modes, one is US (Paypal) and otherone is MEA… my Paypal is the most useless tool n not working any more, while payment via card is working for MEA only to buy Apps.

    Microsoft yet to fix this Regional Restrictions for this International Device.

  • Janne

    I think one of the worst parts of the current regional limitations in Windows Phone has to do with languages.

    For example, Finland has two official languages (Finnish and Swedish) plus many Finnish people prefer to use their devices in English. Yet, choose anything but Finnish as the language when your region is Finland, and you’re bound to miss out on some of the content in the Store. It won’t show or it won’t install until you change the language (what if you are in Finland but don’t speak Finnish?).

    That’s just madness. And things like this are less and less forgivable now that times has gone by and WP is no longer a new product. They need to fix it ASAP.

  • zlutor

    I do not know how it works for WP but in Ovi Store developer has to set both of supported phone models AND regions – yes, one-by-one in some cases

    To be even more fancy it has to be updated when a new phone model come out otherwise their apps will not be available for the new phone…

    Nice, isn’t it?

    • zlutor

      Oh, not to mention when QA people preventing certain apps to be distributed into some country…

      E.g. Christmas related content to some Arabic countries – Syria, Jordan or Iraq – having millions of Christian citizens, official Christian Churches, etc. – but they let it be distributed in others e.g. in Egypt…

      So, it is not so easy sometimes… 🙁

      • Ere oli aliarvostettu

        Something wrong with this?

        Just try to distribute some nazi material in a German App Store. That’s not a good idea.

        • zlutor

          In this particular case, yes, there is something wrong with it…

          I do not want having this kind of material published into Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Iran but to countries where there are millions of Christian people, having respected by their country/government, open celebration of Christmas is not an issue, etc.

          Nazi materials are ‘a little bit’ different story, I guess…

          All what I wanted to say is life of developer might not be easy at all when distribution of an app comes into the picture…

  • Brian

    As a developer I can tell you that the problem lies with the (mainly Islamist) governments.

    When I submit an app there is a very long list of countries for which I don’t need to do anything special. Then there is a short list for which I have to jump through some hoops for my app to be acceptable there.

    For Taiwan (new requirement) I have to include some Taiwanese hieroglyphics somewhere in the description and app. There is a website I can go to (all in Taiwanese) in order to get more details of what is required. None of my apps are available in Taiwan.

    For Russia there is an English website where I can self-certify what age groups my apps are suitable for. My apps are mostly games with zero adult content. This is an easy hoop for me to jump through. They are all available in Russia.

    Then there are all the Islamist countries. Just exactly what the hoops are that I need to jump through to, for instance, get Tic Tac Toe certified as not offending Islamic sensibilities I don’t know and I don’t really care. There is very little in the way of revenue for me there anyway. Non of my apps are available in these countries.

    Finally there are a few strange odds and sods countries which have their own certifications I would need to go through to have my apps available in their countries. Off the top of my head I can’t remember the names of any of these countries but again, who cares? I can’t remember their names because in terms of likely revenue they don’t even exist.

    Bottom line: If you want my apps available in your country then get your country to join the rest of the civilised world in the 21st century.

    As far as big name producers are concerned I suspect it is a simple business decision. There is a cost in getting an app certified for a market where that is required. Where that cost is minimal, eg Russia (and for the big guys I’m sure Taiwan is also trivial), they make the effort. Where it’s not they don’t.

    By the way, Nokia also does something similar I assume. Why are Lumia phones not available in Japan? That just makes no sense to me. Presumably there is some business or political reason. Interestingly Lumia phones are not available in Israel. Is that Nokia kowtowing to the “Arab boycott”?

    • zlutor


      No to mention China – ‘hieroglyphics’ are required there, too.

      Depending on who – yesss! – is reviewing your app to be published during Nokia QA process you might have to provide description of you app in Chinesse, too…

      Thanks to Google Translate I can write something there then – maybe being quite funny for native speakers. 🙂

    • I think you mean Chinese for Taiwan…not to mention that Taiwan is a part of China, but hieroglyphics called Taiwanese never existed…

      • Ere oli aliarvostettu

        Taiwan seems to be a part of China just as much as China is a part of Russia.

        That’s one reason why developers don’t want to release in certain countries.

  • akse

    “I understand that in some instances it’s a must (such as Music streaming apps due to licensing issues, i.e. Nokia Music or Video streaming such as Netflix etc.)”

    I have no understanding for this kind of artificial boundaries. They complain about piracy when their ancient structures doesn’t work in modern world.

    Why would anyone not pirate a TV show, movie or music if some parts of the world have access to those x year/month/week earlier than others and some sites offer you the same product at the same time for free.

    • Brian

      This (broken) model is forced on MS by the music and film industries who seem to have enormous power in supposedly democratic societies.

      Where this really sucks from the pov of MS implementation is when they shoehorn free podcasts into this model and make podcast providers specify the “markets” where these should be available. The answer is “everywhere”! Consequently for users outside North America downloading podcasts is broken on the phone.

      One of the apps on my todo list is a decent podcatcher/player which would work just like the podcatcher I run on my desktop machine.

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