Windows Phone services around the world: An embarrassing matrix of missing features

On a recent episode of Windows Weekly, I noted that I was considering making a table depicting all of the countries in which Windows Phone was available on one axis, and all of the possible online services on the other, and that I would then check off which features were available where. And what we’d see, I guessed, was a bunch of holes, because many of these features simply aren’t available everywhere. Furthermore, the distribution of features seemed crazy to me. Some countries, for example, have access to movies but not TV shows. Some get access to movie rentals, but not movie purchases. It must be crazy, I figured.

Well it is crazy.

Andrew Birch took up the challenge and actually made the table. And … oh my. What a freaking disaster this is. If you were wondering about one of the top reasons people don’t trust Microsoft to provide a compelling, consistent user experience, look no further than Andrew’s post, where there are actually two tables, one for Zune Marketplace features (App Market, Zune Pass, Music Market, Podcast Market, TV Market, Movie Rentals, and Movie Purchases) and one for Xbox LIVE, Bing and other services (Local Search, Traffic, Voice Search, Xbox LIVE, and clickable phone numbers and addresses). It’s pretty pathetic. Unless of course you live in the US.

So when we discuss missing features and a need for Microsoft to move more quickly, let’s not forget this very important aspect of the Windows Phone ecosystem. Which in most countries is not so much an ecosystem as it is chaos and confusion.

Thanks to Andrew for doing the hard work on this one. Nicely done, sir.

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34 Responses to Windows Phone services around the world: An embarrassing matrix of missing features

  1. sergioiacobucci says:

    Tell you what I try and defend WP7 all the time. But this sort of thing makes it seriously hard, if they do not sort this sort of thing out now then WP7 is going to struggle.

  2. striderauz says:

    And I thought Australia was bad. What about poor old Canada – sitting a stone’s throw (well almost) from MS head office – and you cannot get Zune Passes or the WP7 local search / voice search etc…. Damn!

    This really is a massive disservice to all the WP7 / MS customers (aka supporters) out there. I managed to get a Zune Pass for music working here in Aus with a ZuneHD for around 9 months – It was absolutely amazing. I listened to more recreational music in those 9 months than I would have in the 9 years prior!

    Get your %$@ together MS and do the deals for Zune Passes for us all – and explain to us all why we cannot have Local+Voice search in Aus ???

    PS – it is great work on that table. A very telling piece of work.

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  4. joshhood says:

    I’m a user in the UK, and I just find it ridiculous that I can’t even click on a phone number in an email or website.

  5. rob00t says:

    third list added in the source link (countries w/o market and translation)

  6. serval23 says:

    Ok, i get the Zune stuff. MS has to make arrangements with the license holders, which are !”(/&%)!/%&§% anyway, in every single country.

    But I really don’t get the Bing Services stuff. I mean, really? Then give Google the opportunity to hook into the search button instead of offering Europeans (and others) such crappy local services. I owned other smartphones here and they all could do this stuff local search, traffic, routes – but they used Google. And how hard can it be to implement a pattern to recognize local telephone numbers? That’s max a day work for 1 engineer per country including testing.

    Little sidenode, I just had a vacation and went to Cairo in Egypt. Guess what, Bing has satellites images – ok. But they don’t have street data for this important town. In comparison, Google has street data and even has some local businesses (by far not all, mostly those used by western people).

  7. kabukin0 says:

    To offer a perspective on the services bit :

    Microsoft is, in particular in the US, involved in an EXTREMLY wide set of services. Rolling thoose out worldwide seems like an impossibility. Even genius-boy Steve Jobs has stated that challenging settopboxes in the US is difficult due to the strong position of the current leaders. He is still experimenting with AppleTV, though Microsoft might win that war with xBox if you ask me …

    I would not expect all microsoft services to be avavible across the globe, but the way I see Bing, it’s more of an “operating system” for external serviceproviders, for example within shopping and the like. That makes the “search” button on the phone a whole lot more powerful, if it for example would offer a link to spotify in europe, or some tv-series buy/download thing for a specific country, -and that would all happen through bing. I’m not sure how search will evolve in the future, already twitter and facebook are serious challengers to google.

    One thing though, and this is amazing to me, is that Google actually has placed a damn car in the most insanley remote areas of the planet to do the photo thing. It has no commercial value, it won’t give them instant cash rewards or anything, it’s just there :

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=no&geocode=&q=svolv%C3%A6r,+norge&aq=&sll=68.471111,13.863611&sspn=0.007496,0.033023&g=lofoten,+norway&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Svolv%C3%A6r,+V%C3%A5gan,+Nordland,+Norge&ll=68.252024,13.615735&spn=0.121613,0.528374&t=h&z=12&layer=c&cbll=68.252024,13.615735&panoid=BGhfQ79wwZpoVfDabJOm7g&cbp=12,188.49,,0,6.58

    Population dencity is about zero…

  8. huwjones says:

    It’s even worse than the table indicates in some ways. For example, in the UK (and I assume in other non-US countries), despite the fact that Zune pass costs are not reduced, there are other missing features – no 10 tracks per month to keep, no ‘picks’, no artist information etc.

    Andrew’s Table 2 is really, really, REALLY embarrassing – how could they possibly have thought that such a situation was acceptable? And why can’t they say how long it will take to ‘fix’? Do they in fact intend to ‘fix’ it? If not can non-US users get a discount please?? Hello MS – anyone at home???

  9. erazor2007 says:

    I just hope that this disaster will have at least the positive side effect of Ballmer finally getting his incompetent ass handed to him by the board. On the other hand to really turn-around things at MS it would probably take french-revolution style change of most of the management.

  10. gawicks says:

    Making Zune services available consistently across all countries is difficult. MS has to settle with all the content providers so this might take a while .Marketplace is new and they should push harder on extending international support As quickly as possible.

    The Real issue I have is with Bing . It has been around for a while and but still international support is pretty bad outside the US. local results are extremly poor compared to google. They keep pushing updates to the service and the mobile apps but they are pretty much US only.WTH!

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Sure. It’s funny how Apple can do a much better job of offering consistent services around the world however. Hilarious, really. :)

      • rob00t says:

        it might be interesting to check how many countries have access to itunes store (music) :)

      • alexd7777 says:

        As for the Bing – es, it is an issue. But MS does always like that – slooooooow … Remember, IE9 beta was half a year ago (google made since then 2 releases)?

        As for Zune – sometimes it’s a local problem. In Germany, GEMA (smth like RIAA) wanted 10 eurocent per streamed song. Well, having Zune Pass only for 10€ (France) this is not possible. Pretty oft you can’t watch youtube videos: “this is Sony/BMG/IMG/F..kMG property and it’s not available in your country”.

  11. romit says:

    Why is this chart not on some Zune or Microsoft site like a status table?? Why muddle the picture by putting out various press releases with future dates that we can’t realistically track? Sigh.

  12. sergioiacobucci says:

    heres some info on how people are currently sharing this info, appreciated this is only andrews website so not the traffic coming through to paul’s

    http://bit.ly/fei5FX+

    Sergio

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  14. blkballoon925 says:

    So, what exactly does the hardware/capacitive Search button do in countries that don’t have Bing services? Load bing.com in Internet Explorer Mobile?

    • it’s not quite that bad. You know how the results page of the Bing Search app has 3 Pivots (Web, News, Local), well the Local one is completely missing. Search from the Maps app for a place like McDonalds also provides no results. Finally we do not have the little Mic icon next to the search box in the Bing App.

  15. Bill says:

    And while I’m in the U.S. so I have it much nicer than elsewhere, when it comes to Bing, I have to wonder WTH with all the app updates and new features they keep releasing for the iPhone and seem to be ignoring WP7 .

  16. jabtano says:

    This is how I see it. MS when it was under the eye of Mr.Gates moved they attacked they had win,win,win. on there minds. MS under Mr.Ballmer is complete joke. the man is a clown. So what we see now is no direction. they can not make up there minds at all My God look at what they did in Vegas having that lady up on stage when the person who should have been there was not and I don’t mean Ballmer I mean Joe Belfiore!

    • lzandman says:

      Maybe Joe was unavailable. I thought Elizabeth Sloan did a nice job, although she was a bit hysterical. And her always-on smile was pretty creepy :-)

  17. denkiman says:

    Canada does get TV shows, but no music. Thank goodness Win7/Zune software has libraries so I can include the iTunes folder to pick up music. I’m a bit used to services arriving slow in Canada from the US. It took a while for iTunes movies and TV shows to show up here too. I’m hoping music will arrive soon. I love my WP7, I have an LG Optimus 7, but listening to WW: 192 made me really depressed and discouraged about the future of WP7. I really want this to succeed.

  18. ziggyfrommars says:

    Podcasts? Why can’t the rest of the world just have access to the US podcast library? I honestly can’t think of a single reason they couldn’t offer this (at least in English speaking countries).

  19. oslik says:

    I could understand we have no marketplace support for music here in Czech Republic yet – some music publishers are somewhat crazy and it’s imaginable they’ve just put some absurd limitations in place.

    BUT WHY WE STILL CANNOT BUY ANY APP?

    Or sell, by the way…?

  20. glenvdb says:

    You think that is bad? I live in Canada, and I have yet to even see a ZUNE anywhere. Every other Microsoft product can be had everywhere, But I have been looking for a Zune since Microsoft first announced them, But they don’t exist here at all. I want a Windows Phone, but even that is hard to get a hold of at any store. I believe you can special order them in from the carriers, but I have yet to see a “live” one.

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  22. mcakins says:

    This is exactly the things that gets me pissed at Microsoft at times. Why is Microsoft so damn US centric when it is a fact that the competition already own the US market. The world marketplace is the place for Microsoft to make its money as far as WP7 is concerned. When they launched WP7 in Europe, I was expecting this thing is global. The fact that you can’t use all the features of WP7 is a putoff for the rest of us in the world, yes indeed we all want WP7 to succeed, but obviously Microsoft doesn’t!

  23. nicholas1029 says:

    I guess this just adds to the Redmond Reality Distortion Field. I don’t get Microsoft. They have everything that they need to succeed. Highly skilled engineers: check. Lots of money: check. Killer services: check. Yet somehow, Microsoft still messes it up. For some stupid reason, they don’t realize that they can connect the dots between services and make them even better. Or (like WP7), they don’t even complete the thing properly.

    Apple gets it. Google gets it. Microsoft should get it, but doesn’t. I don’t know if Ballmer is the one to blame, but if someone isn’t put in or ousted soon, then I fear that Windows 8 Secrets will be Paul’s last book about Microsoft computing.

  24. roteague says:

    I heard Matt Akers talk about the international Podcast issue on the latest Zune Insider, but basically said they were aware of the issue, but didn’t mention what was going to be done. I got the impression that they have a lot of things to work on, and they are trying to prioritize issues.

  25. photistic says:

    I just found a tip for local searches that seems to work for me in Australia. In Settings/Region & language/Browser & search language, change to English (United States). You now get the local tab in IE, unfortunately bing searches no longer favour Australian results. This is similar to going to the US Bing page on the PC where you can see all the services we are lacking.

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