This post is going to be packed with tweets. They unfold a story.

The Windows Store is generally great; it offers heaps of stuff and the latest Windows 10 integration with Xbox One is really great. I like it that I can buy/download something on my PC and it syncs to my Xbox.

The store and Xbox One, as any modern platform, are supposed to be global. There shouldn’t be any geographical boundaries: for games as an example, as soon as you bought the physical Xbox machine, you should be able to buy any game or movie, either in a physical form (Blu-ray) or as a download.

To my surprise, this turned out to not be the case.

It started with this Scott Hanselman tweet that I was very happy to read:

Sounds like a very good deal. According to the PR page: “For the next 10 days, you can enjoy over 1,000 of the latest Hollywood movies, blockbuster music, must-have apps, and addictive games – for only 10 cents each.”

So I hurried to get some; followed the link and indeed no surprise there – good variety of songs, games and movies for 10 cents:

10 Cents Deals

I picked one and proceeded to checkout, just to see that it’s real:

Inside Out Rent Form

Fair enough. Let’s add a payment device:

Profile Address Form

Roadblock. I’m in Australia. What am I supposed to enter here? it’s just US states, the country field is pre-filled as United States and it’s disabled. I figured it’s because my account is defined as a US account – I didn’t do anything explicitly to define it – I think it’s the default (why?). I could put a fake US address just to get through checkout but I guessed it won’t work as my credit card would be checked against my zip code. So I went to my Windows account settings and changed my country to Australia. Went back to the list of games and movies, just to see regular listed prices all over. No 10 cents for you, non-US resident.

And indeed, reading the PR page again, there is some fine print below: “Valid in the 50 US states & DC only.”

Why?

I replied to Scott:

And his response was direct and honest, I must say:

What do the @windowsstore managers have to say?

(Note: this was much before I contacted Scott; it’s a reply to someone else querying about the exact same thing.)

Why, Microsoft? why regional promotions? and there’s no Windows Store Australia by the way. There is one, it’s called “Windows Store”, not “Windows Store USA”, but apparently it’s American. There are no great promotions in the Microsoft Australia account for example, at least not as great as 10 cents for movies, songs and games. I tweeted Microsoft Australia and got no reply:

In this day and age, there is absolutely no reason for regional promotions. Everyone is exposed to the same channels (on Twitter, Facebook, MS blogs etc.), everything is accessible everywhere, and it simply doesn’t make any sense to differentiate. I can understand movie distribution contract restrictions (well, I don’t, but that’s another story – it’s a very hard paradigm to change overnight) but I can’t understand console game, PC game and sound album distribution limitations.

I think we should all approach Microsoft and encourage them to either make their promotions global; the world does not start and end in the United States.

No 10 Cents Windows Store for You, Non-US Resident
  • montysups

    I feel your pain, but there are still many reasons for regional promotions. First & foremost is regional laws & tariffs. Some countries apply up to a 30% tax on imported video games for example. Others restrict contests & sweepstakes.

    No clue if any of that applies in this specific situation, but to roundly dismiss regional promotions as a draconian practice only out to get you is not necessarily the case.

    • I doubt if import tax would apply to digital assets. If I pay plain $15 for a game I purchase at the Windows Store, my country is not aware of that (and it doesn’t need to, and I don’t need to report to anyone that I’m buying something on the Internet, not here in Australia and not anywhere else I’m pretty sure) and Microsoft doesn’t pay sales tax or export/import tax to the Australian government.

      Also, regarding contests, sweepstakes etc. – yes – that applies in general – but that’s not the case here. If I were Microsoft, I would opt-out specific countries rather than opting-in the US only. Alternatively, I’d expect regional Microsoft branches to come up with similar promotions, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      Last thing, if the Windows Store only offers promotions for the US, they should probably rename to Windows Store US.

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