After a “passionate” phone call and email to Microsoft Support. I have come to the conclusion that moving from WindowsMobile to WindowsPhone7 is just not advisable for residents of the Philippines.
If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve been using WindowsMobile since 2001 (that’s 9 years). Around November last year Microsoft launched WindowsMobile MarketPlace (for WM6.1, earlier for 6.5) at the time Philippine credit cards were not accepted so you could get free apps but there was no way to purchase paid apps. 11 months later Philippine credit cards are still not accepted on MarketPlace. I decided to ring Microsoft and write an email expressing my concerns. Today I got a follow up email stating that WindowsPhone7 MarketPlace will also not support the Philippines and that it is unsure when support would be added.
This is from “Rizal” of Microsoft Support:
Additionally, for the new Windows Phone 7 marketplace, the list of supported countries is still the same; Singapore, Australia, New Zealand Hong Kong and Taiwan (Asia Pacific).Additional markets and languages will come at a later date, however, there's no confirmation date about this.
As a WinMob fan boy this is very very very disappointing.
Using WindowsMobile you could still side load apps so this issue had a workaround, however in WindowsPhone7 the MarketPlace is the only way to get apps. So if you do invest on a new phone you will be left using the stock apps plus free trials and freeware apps. I am not knocking freeware apps but merely pointing out that you will not be able to maximize your device.
WindowsPhone7 is boasting integration with MarketPlace, Office, WindowsLive, Zune, Xbox, Bing services. The 2 services that I am concerned with (I don’t have an Xbox so it’s not an issue for me): Zune will be relegated to sync media because since Microsoft doesn’t accept Philippine credit cards the Zune subscription service is immediately inaccessible. Bing services is half and half. Bing search, weather would work like in any browser. However Bing Maps is mostly empty, never mind turn-by-turn you can’t even use it as a reference (Google Maps has no TBT but at least you can use it as a reference)
So integration is half baked because there is no data or the service is not accessible due to payment restrictions.
Microsoft is moving to a more closed model with their mobile strategy in doing so they are alienating users who are not in the supported countries list. Previously in the more open system of WindowsMobile, users had a workaround (buy apps else where, install google maps instead of bing maps etc). With this controlled and integrated environment these users have no recourse. I am not saying the strategy is wrong, I actually think they needed to do this earlier. The gotcha is, if you’re country isn’t supported the positives of integration and synergy quickly becomes a negative.
So it pains me, a WindowsMobile fan boy of 9 years, to say that I cannot recommend WindowsPhone7 to any of my countrymen until they add us to the supported countries list and beef up support for the Philippines, simply because you will not be getting the most value for your peso. It is unclear when or if the Philippines will ever be added to MarketPlace and after close to a year of waiting I might have to move away from the current WindowsMobile platform and skip WindowsPhone7.
Disclosure: I am using an Apple iPhone 3GS (iOS4.x) and a palm TreoPro (WM6.5) as my devices.