Does Microsoft’s refusal to allow Windows Live Region to be changed contravene European Law?

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imageRecently when posting about the expansion of Marketplace to 13 new markets, Microsoft made it clear the only way to change the registered region of your Windows Live account was to create a new one, writing:

The Marketplace country is determined by the accountlocale (Country/Region + language) of the User ID associated with the Windows Live ID used to Sign in.

IMPORTANT Once an account locale is associated to a Windows Live ID, it is permanent and cannot be changed.

To access the Marketplace of a country other than the one in which your account was created or to switch between catalogs in markets where more than one Marketplace is offered, you must reset your phone and complete setup again by using a different Windows Live ID.

Not being able to flip a few bits in a database is of course pretty old fashioned and may violate Directive 95/46/EC, Article 12(b), which states:

“Member States shall guarantee every data subject  the right to obtain from the controller: as appropriate the rectification, erasure or blocking of data the processing of which does not comply with the provisions of this Directive, in particular because of the incomplete or inaccurate nature of the data“.

Not being able to change your inaccurate record at Microsoft may violate this law dating to 1995, particularly as moving from one country to another is a pretty legitimate and common activity in the EU.

The question was raised in the comments on the Microsoft blog here and Mazhar Mohammed from Microsoft responded by saying:

@Mirronelli, @Arthur Csertus, and others: We know resetting your phone to switch Marketplaces is a big inconvenience and are hard at work investigating ways to address this in a future release. It’s an architecture issue and the engineering changes required to fix it are pretty substantial. But I want you to know it’s definitely on our radar. In case you missed it, here are instructions for making the switch:…/2692008

A petition is currently running at to address this exact issue, which of course affect more than Windows Phones but also Xbox Live and other features.

Maybe with the force of law behind it Microsoft will make it somewhat more of a priority.

Thanks to our tipster for the info.

More about the topics: european union, microsoft