While most of the tech blogosphere either ignores or makes fun of Zune, and its marketplace as well as its streaming services, the fact is that it has been around for quite awhile and people like using it.
Well, at least in the U.S. it has, but that is about to change as different parts of the Zune ecosphere starts spreading beyond the U.S.
For the most part that is going to be a good thing especially since Windows Phone 7 plans on making use of the Zune Marketplace and streaming services – depending on which country you live in. However, there is a very large problem looming on the horizon and it is one that is going to leave a lot of people very pissed off.
You see, even though the Zune Marketplace and streaming service is suppose to be geo-locked so that only U.S. residents were able to use the service it didn’t stop people from other countries from jumping through all kinds of hoops in order to access Zune. That is one of the reasons that the 90210 zip code contained so many residents – or at least when it came to web sites and services.
In many cases the simple act of selecting the US as your country of origin and using that famous zip code was enough to sign up and be able to use the service. This has happened on Zune and on Xbox Live as well, and this is where all hell is going to break loose.
You see once Zune, and Xbox Live, are legally available in your country, and in my case it would be Canada, you are going to want to go into your profile and switch your setting to show your real country of origin – except you can’t.
I’m serious. There is no way possible for you to go to your Zune account, or your Xbox Live account and change your country. Here is my Zune Profile settings page and as you can see there is no way to change the country:
It gets even worse when I try to sign in from the Zune Desktop (great software btw) because I can’t:
This problem is also carried over to Xbox Live if you have opened up an account there as well using the same U.S. info because as you can see there is no way to change your country:
Think it stops there?
Think again, because both your Zune and Xbox Live billing is handled through Microsoft billing which means there is a third place where your country name is selected – and unchangeable. To see it just click on update billing information from in your Zune profile (or Xbox profile) and get transferred to the Microsoft Billing page
Click on the Go To Personal Information and then Click on the Edit Personal Information
Once again we are left with an country location that can’t be changed.
Now, I get it, I really do.
I am to blame for this predicament because I wanted to try and game the system so that I could use some cool services and now it is coming back to bite me on the ass.
Except you don’t realize just how bad this bite is going to be, because there is a fix for the problem – well if you can call it that.
You have to create a whole new Zune profile and Xbox Live account. This means new gamer tags and Zune tags. It means that all your achievements in Xbox Live are history. All your purchases – if you managed to make any – on Zune or Xbox are toast.
But wait – it gets even worse.
Because both your Zune profile and Xbox account are now tied in with your Windows Live ID (your Hotmail account) you will also have to kiss your email account good-bye. Which by the way is really insane because you can change your country setting in your Live.com profile.
So just because you wanted to try out some cool services but now want to have your proper country information set for your accounts you are screwed. You will need to start all over again – from the ground up.
I have been through all the Zune forums and Xbox forums looks for answers but it all boils down to this – you are screwed.
Like I said – there is a storm brewing over this and when it blows it is going to be messy. I sure hope Microsoft has an answer or is ready to head to their bomb shelter once Zune and Xbox goes international.