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[Updated] More flexibility brought to regional Marketplace access in Windows Phone 8

Most of us have suffered this pain, especially back in the early days of Windows Phone 7: There's a new Xbox Live title for Windows Phone, however those Xbox Live games aren't available in YOUR Marketplace. The Americans get them every Wednesday, but no such luck for those in Microsoft's "less favored" countries. Or the same game is priced differently in different regions of the Marketplace, for some absurd reason yours is a tad more expensive than everyone else's.

I reckon most Chinese, Australian, and probably German early Windows Phone adopters have tried to disguise their accounts with a US address. The draw back is: the region setting for Live accounts were permanent. Once it's locked to the US, there's no coming back. And if the account you've been using for a decade has already been set to "the wrong country", there's no choice but to create a new one specifically for your phone.

A test done on the final build of Windows Phone 8 reveals that such pains are no more, well, almost.

The region setting for Marketplace access in Windows Phone 8 works like this:

  • It doesn't matter where your Live account is registered to. Have a Live account on Pluto and you are still allowed to buy apps from the Marketplace for the United States of America, Earth.
  • What matters now is the country/region setting of your phone *upon activation". Say, this is a brand new Windows Phone just bought in Zimbabwe, you turn it on, set the country/region to the Netherlands in the activation guide, and there you go, Dutch Marketplace for good.
  • This is semi-permanent. No matter how you switch the country/region setting around afterward, the Marketplace is glued to that one old country. If really, really necessary, a hard reset and re-activation could switch your Marketplace region again.
  • Every time you want another switch, just go through the route again.

This is basically universal, except for Chinese Windows Phone hardware. The Chinese government, being manipulative as it is, will reportedly lock all Chinese Windows Phones to the Chinese Marketplace, making sure that every single user of legally retailed Chinese Windows Phone device being exposed only to politically correct and harmonious applications. This won't matter to most of you guys though. You see there are three kinds of countries on this planet: some basically don't limit e-commerce (USA, most European countries), some simply cut the internet cable (North Korea), and only the third kind who sits frustratingly in the middle (China) tend to have such problems.

If you are still troubled by Marketplace regions, or really want to revive an old & trusted Live account on your phone, upgrading to Windows Phone 8 will be a wise choice. Certainly this is not as nice as Windows 8, where you are allowed to switch Windows Store regions by just a few clicks in the Control Panel, not even requiring a system restart.

But it's massive improvement from before after all, right?

Update:

Multiple users here and at WPDang are reporting that by simply fliping the location setting in Windows Phone 8 and a quick restart, you can actually switch Marketplace region any time. If you have tested this out, please share the result here. Looks like things are going from good to better.

Source: WPDang

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Comments

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jonchai says:

Finally. But does it affect other accounts associated with the Live account? Say for example, the Xbox account. If I were to change region on WP, will it change my Xbox region too?

alljerry04 says:

The Xbox region is still according to the region u first set like the WP7.x

alljerry04 says:

On my 8S, I simply change my location on the phone and restart then I can access other region's store. I think WPDang is wrong

Natebird says:

How you liking that 8S?

alljerry04 says:

I love it, it is so pretty, I think it is a good phone for light user 

The developers aren't publishing their games here in Brazil. So sad!!! :(
Someone can confirm if this region/country change will work in the wp7.8 too??

dvorak123 says:

The only key feature that I'm missing in AUS is podcast. Just flick the switch MS, it can't be that hard.

DaSchnee says:

Same in Germany

schlubadub says:

What? Where is it missing? It was added to WP7 in February this year (IIRC) for Aussies

Unfortunantly it's not in the marketplace, and changing the region in settings doesn't work either (for podcasts to be returned)
I do really miss this feature... I like my podcasts.

schlubadub says:

Ah right, yeah I've never seen the marketplace podcasts. Have you tried the "PODCASTS!" app? I used that for a while when I had time to listen to podcasts (very difficult these days - I can't pay attention when I'm working, and at home I've got better things to do than stare at the wall while I listen)

uopjo6 says:

Can Xbox Music (or Nokia Music even..) come the xxxx out to the East. It's one big portion of service we're missing on while paying almost double the price on contract. Although we don't have locked phones but come on. Xbox Music (and Nokia Music) are "Music" apps that should be essential to every own branded devices. I've given up on Spotify or Pandora to land so I'm hoping Xbox and Nokia Music would as least swing by soon. It's ridiculous. 

tissotti says:

Well it sounds like licensing up there is hard.
Thinking how slow MS is, i would expect Nokia to get its music service up there first.

markfirst says:

I can easily change the region in my 920 from settings and marketplace changes as well

RaRa85 says:

Man China seems like a cool place to visit but they sure do have a lot of restrictions there.

doctorweir says:

Yeah great...after Nokia finally released the 920 here in Singapore on Sat (luckily got one cos it feels they delivered 100 pieces for the whole island) I noticed I can finally download the kindle app...not possible with the sg ID before... :-)

eshy says:

When I got my 920 (at Build), Nokia Drive+ wasn't available in the US marketplace. I tried someone else's phone and it was there, they had it set to Finald and others had Canada. so I switched, got the app and switched back. So I'm not sure a hard reset is really required

ClixT says:

This works. I did this a couple days ago to install Nokia Reading. :D

Now I am using the US market since windows phone 7, but always my problem was that I cant use my country VISA or Master CARD and they always require an American one. Can I now switch to my country store and put my visa info and then go back to the US store and buy from there ?? please help
 

doadrian says:

I know it is possible to ad a paypall account as a payment method - i use it to subscribe to xbox music on windows 8 (it works also in windows phone 7.5) but i do not know if it is possible to buy apps in windows phone 8 using paypall. In win phone 7.5 it is not possible. Can someone confirm this please?

ravi.tandon says:

I got this done twice, call up ms support, get ur international credit or debit added manually.

Unfortunantly this won't work from my experience.
Account region can be different to store region, but mostly they are tied together.
I have found that they recently blocked the adding of international credit cards, (or check when attempting to charge it for new purchases)
When Zune was released in Australia, it wasn't a problem, and I had a US based account since then, however, it seems as though this was changed recently as no amount of adding paypal or alternate cards would work. (and then the payment was rejected for cards that worked fine / work fine for all other purchases outside of the Microsoft Store)
 
I ended up having to create another account, and setup everything again.

abhishek8605 says:

I'm on the US market but living in Thailand and all I did was change my region and language settings, and after a restart it was working.

stephen_az says:

The varying price by country is hardly absurd.  It is result of differing taxes, duties, and costs of doing business in differnt markets.  The same thing holds true for the Google Play Store, BlackBerry Store, and Apple App Store.

tissotti says:

It doesn't really. Here in Scandinavia that is pretty much as taxes as you can get, Apple app store and Google play just have the prices dollar=euro, that's across Europe.
With WP store you get mix of all kind of prices across Europe. it was shitty. 

schlubadub says:

The price hike in Australia is around $0.50 which doesn't correlate to our standard tax amount of 10% (GST). "Duties" don't apply to downloadable content. Yes, there is a "cost of doing business" but I don't see why that's not absorbed across the board instead of penalising specific markets.

ajua says:

I would liek to add that the country associated with your Microsoft (formerly Windows Live ID) account CAN BE CHANGED, but you have to call them and request the change. To keep this short, I created the new account, set it to Mexico, and procceded to reset my Optimus 7 to use this address. To my dismay, when I set it as my Microsoft account on Win8, the first time I downloaded an Xbox live game, the system set my xbox billing country to Spain.
 
I couldn't add a Mexican credit card to my account because the facturation was set by the system to Spain, ignoring the country I set when I registered. I called the Xbox team infuriated about this because I wouldn't be able to buy anything on WP or Win8 and they told me they could change the country of my account and that it could take between 1 to 6 weeks in which I may experience problems signing in into their services.
 
I decided it was not worth it and added my personal domain email to use it as a Microsoft account through their Domains service. This time everything worked as expected but I set my xbox account manually by going to their site and carefully choosing payment options and double checking it still was set to Mexico.
 
Sorry if I bored you, but I think it is important to know that you can, after years of requests from all over the world, the country of your Microsoft account and Microsoft billing country.
 
On topic. It's good to know that the Windows Store is presented to you according to your regional settings and not your account's country. This is the way it should work by default, even if Microsoft still doesn't allow you to change the country, specially the important one: the Microsoft billing country.

mchood says:

I bought my 8x in Zimbabwe :P

Martinspire says:

I had hoped they would implement the Windows 8 variant of the region lock. There you just set the region of your system differently and can then browse the store of that region. No hard reset required. Its what i did to get apps that werent global yet or locked to the US

jerrynomenon says:

How about Hong Kong phones? Are they still locked to china?

DesRed says:

I'm not from Hong Kong, but I was there on vacation last month and I saw a Lumia poster advertising the HK apps which includes facebook and twitter so I assume that these phones are unlocked by default and not locked to the Chinese marketplace.

jerrynomenon says:

Btw, if Chinese windows phones lack Xbox games and music, what happens to the games and music+video apps? Are they completely removed from phones?

Kane Gao says:

For practical purpose, we usually consider Hong Kong and Taiwan separate countries. "China" by default just means the mainland. No worries about HK Windows Phones. As far as I know, nothing's locked or ripped off. Complete experience.

demoll says:

Yes its work, on Lumia 920 change location region settings, press below reset and all, after phon restart all app with other and new region works fine.

monterxz says:

i don't know, but i was able to change market region by just changing the system locale a year ago on my lumia 800. my native language is russian, so i got the russian market, but then changed to english US and got us market. changed it several times during the first month of use, before i saw that not all apps were in russian store. praised ms, because on my old iphone i could not do that without registering new account (and loosing all aps from old one). i had no idea that you can't do such thing in wp7.

holzlondon says:

I have a bit of an interesting situation.  I'm living in Germany, but with English as my mother language, I wanted to have the phone set up as follows:

  • Region Germany
  • Language English

Unfortunately, when I do this, the marketplace offers me the apps for Germany, but Nokia exclusives are not there.  Even when I go through a link on a website (like here on WPCentral), it takes me to the app, but I get the message that it is not available in my region.
So, next option:

  • Region Germany
  • Language German -> Nokia apps available

 

  • Region UK or USA
  • Language English -> Nokia apps available

 

  • Region UK or USA
  • Language German -> Nokia apps NOT available

 
I flagged it with Nokia, and apparantly it's a known issue on the Microsoft side, that may or may not be changed in the future through a firmware update.
Until now, I keep my phone on English & UK.  When I need a particular app from the German Marketplace, I switch regions, do a soft reset, get it, and switch back.
I think the MS account location has no influence whatsoever.

Raesu says:

I set my language to Chinese, region to US, and the ATT and Nokia collections disappeared from the store! A week later, they reappeared but the Nokia collection was "collección" as if my phone were in Spanish! Then another few days later, both are back to visible in English while the rest of the store is in Chinese. Definitely seems a bit buggy and that they are working on it.

CandyK8 says:

so therefore...its safe for me living in Kenya, to sign up with region set as UK, language as English???(lived in UK 4 years, can relate to many of the apps; the Kenyan marketplace has like 3 apps *exaggerated, but you get me*)...
Does signing up with a diff region then where you live affect anything else, or does it mailny just give you access to apps from THAT specific region?!?!?!?!

silverdoe says:

You don't want to make a dick of yourself by bashing other country ideology. Maybe you're supposed who's on this site are all Americans & rednecks, but I'm not. I'm no Chinese, either, but I probably come back to WPDang if I were (the site that the article actually linked to, how pathetic) since it's in Chinese & it's not bashing anyboody's ideology. This is one simple article that doesn't need that. Btw, who the fuck is this Chassit? I thought the reporters here use real names!

pikablu0530 says:

I can confirm that no hard reset is required. Simply change the "Country/region" settings as well as the "Regional format" settings to the country you want, and the marketplace will update accordingly (as well as available payment methods, currency...etc). In China you actually get Alipay as a payment method.

jocus says:

It's work simply change region and restart

xygot says:

Been checking my Titan II, Uganda is not turning up anywhere... and I so badly want to get Words With Friends... How do I get in touch with MS to get them to manually add another card?

CodingYokai says:

Actually Microsoft account can hold multi billing accounts inside. Each billing account associated with a country. My account is US but I'm not from US, but I've added my credit card after switch locate setting in Windows/Windows Phone 8 to my country.
After that I've been able to bought app from store. Switch back the locate setting to US doesn't lost my purchase.
You can login MS account, go to billing section, you will see "US - Personal Account" right below your name. If you has multi billing accounts. You can click it then choose (for ex: "UK - Personal Account") to see your transaction for the billing account.

I've switched the Store region from the regional settings without a hard-reset, as per the instructions of a Microsoft Support rep. There's no need for a hard-reset, simply change your region and reboot.

cedarlog says:

good news for earth people cause their stores missing a lot of apps

cedarlog says:

next step prepaid cards for store

this so much annoyed me I even thought to go back to Android. Hopefully Microsoft understand it doesn't need to be a pain in our asses or else...

IceDree says:

#next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }
I have been wondering about this for a while , I'm about to jump to Windows Phone 8 soon.
How does this work with an Xbox Live\GamerTag account ?
I have a U.S. account for my GamerTag that I made 2 years ago , because it was the only way to get Xbox live in Saudi Arabia
When I get my Windows Phone 8 , Can I Sign-In with this account & then change my location to Saudi Arabia , so I can add a Credit Card to it & buy apps ?

 

Anyone figured out how to get U.S. Podcasts to show up with a UK account? I would like to be able to use the "Sleep Timer" App with Podcasts but third party apps dont show up in Sleep Timer (e.g. Slapdash Podcasts).  Are there any other apps that will sleep the phone after a given time? 

arseny92 says:

WP7 / Xbox live region: US . Currently used region on my 920 is : Israel

So yes, the region changes and multibilling accounts are indeed possible now with WP8 and Win 8

arseny92 says:

But there are several matters: if you have several phones, changing the Store region WILL NOT affect other phones you have. That is: go to your Account settings at Windowsphone.com, select your other phone and try to browse to any application page, that you did not got yet (not in purchase history). Instead of install/try/buy buttons, you will see a message that you can't buy apps from this region, and a link to home region Store for the selected device.

arseny92 says:

The web version of Windows Phone Store is per device and is region synced to your devices and is syncing across WP8 device reboots on Store region changes.

arseny92 says:

This region change applies only to Windows Phone Stores and is per-device. This does not affect the Windows 8 Windows Store as it is region-free per it's region settings separately. This does not affect Xbox LIVE Store and/or your Xbox 360 (YET!!!). This portion of the service is still region locked, though you can unlock your Windows Phone Xbox LIVE games achievements freely no matter what Xbox region you are in.

arseny92 says:

This way or another, you will have several billing IDs on commerce.microsoft.com, and often several PayPal billing agreement IDs, if you use PayPal to bill your Microsoft services, as for the US services you are billed by the Redmond campus, and for the EMEA services you are being billed by the Luxembourg affiliate.

By the way, I have a tip related to all this billing stuff, maybe worthy an article. Some of this (Microsoft Points-related) is already described at my Twitter @arseny92 at statuses 276641960910024704 , 276642674457600000 and 276643256043982848 .

CandyK8 says:

so therefore...its safe for me living in Kenya, to sign up with region set as UK, language as English???(lived in UK 4 years, can relate to many of the apps; the Kenyan marketplace has like 3 apps *exaggerated, but you get me*)...
Does signing up with a diff region then where you live affect anything else, or does it mailny just give you access to apps from THAT specific region?!?!?!?!

this simply mean buying a windows phone in china is useless, I bought nokia 920 from china and now I'm stuck with chinese apps I don't need. and also I cannot change my location store. any help or advice because am not a chinese I don't need chinese apps I need facebook and others in my phone!