Every time a new app is released from Microsoft there are two certainties, I will download it and that I will get bombarded with messages that “this app is not available in my country”. It has happened this week, it happened last week and it will continue to happen into the future and it’s about time to question why Microsoft is doing this.
Last week, when I covered how Android can now send notifications to a Windows 10 PC, I became painfully aware of the fact that Cortana Android app is not available everywhere as many users both on Twitter and in the comments which pointed this out. If this was the only app that had this artificial limitation, it wouldn’t be worth talking about but when you probe deeper into the problem, for those of us inside the US, you become acutely aware of the issue for those outside this US.
Asking on Twitter, you can see a long list of apps not available to everyone such as the newly released Wordflow keyboard for iOS, Bing apps in various regions in Europe, Xbox Smart Glass in some countries and many of the garage apps that come out are limited to the US. I can understand why Groove, which is really a vehicle to distribute licensed music content, is not available in all regions but when Bing is trailing behind in features, Cortana, keyboards and other apps launch to being region locked to the US, it’s frustrating.
While the US is an important market for Microsoft, there are far more users outside the US for these applications than inside which means the company is leaving market share on the table. I asked Microsoft for the reasoning of imposing app restrictions based on geography and they responded with the comment below, which doesn’t provide any sort of insight into why this occurs.
“Today, Windows 10 is on over 300 million active devices around the world and we are committed to working closely with our partners to bring their apps to our fans everywhere.”
It’s hard to understand why Wordflow is restricted in countries that use QWERTY keyboards or why Bing lags significantly behind in European markets. With the Garage apps, since they are not proper Microsoft corporate apps, limited availability makes a bit more sense but then again, if they are not under the corporate umbrella, why not release them everywhere and learn from the feedback?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Microsoft’s trend of limiting new app releases to the US will change anytime soon. That’s disheartening for fans around the globe and more importantly, it’s creating breathing space for competitors to step in and take the market share that Microsoft is leaving on the table by restricting app availability.