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Microsoft, China, and Taiwan: Different Service Agreements of Uncertain Meaning

2016-12-14

The updates to Microsoft’s User Agreements include separate terms for users who live in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore (as well as other countries).  These specify different terms, for example:

For customers living in Taiwan, we’ve clarified that all purchases pertaining to digital content are final and non-refundable when such content or service has been provided online, and that there may be certain circumstances when you are entitled to a refund for subscription Services.

And in a following section:

For customers residing in China, in the Contracting Entity, Choice of Law, & Place to Resolve Disputes section, we’ve added that if you are using MSN, Bing or the Windows Maps App, you are contracting with Microsoft Mobile Alliance Internet Service Co., Ltd., and if you are using Xbox Store on Xbox ONE, you are contracting with Shanghai Oriental Pearl Media Co., Ltd.

The “Summary of Changes to Microsoft Services Agreement” describes several such changes depending on where you live.  It does not explain what “Shanghai Oriental Pearl Media Ltd” is, nor what “Microsoft Mobile Alliance Internet Service Co. Ltd” is, but the presence of “Ltd” in these names suggests that these are special-purpose corporations that handle business in these areas in a completely different way.  Just how these differences affect customers in China is  not specified and it would be inappropriate to speculate.  Nonetheless, it is clear that terms are different and that these terms relate to the differences in governance in these areas.

This would be a productive area of investigation if it were possible to discover just what these differences were.

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