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With the release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft managed to get itself back into the mobile phone race with a platform impressive enough to even win over tech critics at magazines and websites with its slick Metro user interface.
The result of this and months of anticipation from former Windows Mobile owners and other interested technophiles led to the various phones on the platform – provided by names such as Samsung and Dell – being purchased around the world after the initial European launch in October 2010. Since then, the platform has continued building momentum with more and more users interested in its features, which include Microsoft Office Mobile, Xbox LIVE integration and the Windows Phone Marketplace.
However, it is this last bit of functionality that has been causing a bit of a problem for users outside of North America and Europe. Users in various locations such as Asia and the Far East have been experiencing a Windows Phone 7 error when attempting to access the Marketplace to download apps and games. The error typically reads as follows:
"Marketplace is not yet available in your country/region"
This is clearly a frustrating problem, as it limits anyone who has spent money on any WP7 device to having a very expensive feature phone, rather than the advertised smartphone. All is not lost, however; naturally, a workaround has been found that allows users outside of the approved regions to access the Marketplace.
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Where Can I Get the Marketplace?
According to Microsoft, the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is currently available in the following countries/regions:
- Hong Kong SAR
- New Zealand
- Great Britain
- United States
Following the release of the Mango update in late 2011, the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will then be available in these countries/regions:
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
A future update doesn’t help anyone still on the barebones or NoDo release, however.
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Why the Error Occurs
As you might have guessed, this error occurs because of regional restrictions imposed by Microsoft on the use of Windows Phone 7 devices. Microsoft’s own page on regional feature and service availability offers further details on this subject, but the issue is currently controlled by the suitability of Microsoft servers to deal with requests to the Marketplace.
There are two factors affecting this: the details in your Windows Live account, and the regional settings on your Windows Phone.
You will probably know that access to the Windows Phone Marketplace requires you to have a Windows Live email account that must be added to your phone. This account gives access to other features, but most crucially its management and administration is determined by the location that you give when the account is created.
Meanwhile, the regional settings on your phone – available via Start > Settings > Region & language – will also determine whether you are able to access the Marketplace. It is possible that the service isn’t yet available in your language, for instance.
Someone in Hungary, for example, is likely to provide this information when they setup a Windows Live account. As the Marketplace is not available in Hungary, they will be unable to access the service, whereas an American in Hungary would be able to access it, as long as they didn’t alter their phone’s regional settings.
There is every chance that altering your Windows Phone settings or creating a new Windows Live account with a different country setup might help, although the second option will require you to hard-reset your phone, potentially leading to you losing a lot of data. Fortunately, there is another way around this problem, one which doesn’t require any changes to your phone or Windows Live account.
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Resolving the Error and Accessing the Marketplace
In order to download apps and games to your Windows Phone you need to ignore the Marketplace Hub on your phone, and instead access the library via your computer. The following steps can only be performed on Windows computers with the Zune client installed -- if you don’t have it already, you can download from www.zune.net.
These steps also require you to access the Windows Registry -- this can be potentially dangerous if misused, so if you’re concerned about making any mistakes find a more confident associate to carry out this process.
After installing the Zune client, go to Start and type regedit into the search box and hit Enter. Find your way to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Zune\Features, where you will see that the entries for Apps, Marketplace, and SignInAvailable will all feature a long string similar to this:
What you will need to do is add the two-letter shortcode for your country to the end of each of the three entries; for instance, if you live in South Africa, you would add SA:
Simply double-click the Apps, Marketplace, and SignInAvailable entries in turn and then update the string, and click OK to confirm each one.
Once the change is made, exit the Registry Editor and connect your Windows Phone to your computer. Zune should launch, and the “Features Have Changed" message will be displayed. In Zune, you should see the Marketplace link in the menu, and you will now be able to install apps!
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- Windows Phone 7 error: "Marketplace is not yet available in your country/region", http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2564553
- Image credit: Windows Phone Newsroom, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/windowsphone/imageGallery.aspx