We pay more for Vista and the PS3, and we can't use Windows Marketplace. It's time we were put on an equal footing with the US

By way of an update, many readers will recall that I promised to try to speak to a senior Microsoft executive to find out why we have to pay substantially more for Vista than our American counterparts do. I asked Microsoft's press office to find someone with the authority to speak to me on the record about the matter. And let me note that Microsoft's press office has always been extremely helpful to me.

Over the years I've asked for (and received) all kinds of help with many issues and, as far as I'm concerned, our working relationship has been excellent.

This article appears in the June 07 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

Given the above, I was more than a little surprised when, over two weeks after making the request, I received the following: "Just a quick mail to let you know that unfortunately, I will not be able to provide a spokesperson for interview, as per your request. We don't have anyone available who is well versed on this topic to speak to you within your deadline. Apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause."

The world's largest software company doesn't have anyone well versed on this topic? Forgive me, Microsoft, but I find that hard to understand. A cynical person might think you don't have anyone who is prepared to talk to me on this subject – and that's a little disappointing, to say the least.

Before I give my Microsoft–bashing keyboard a rest, I have been trying to get more information about when we'll be able to use Windows Marketplace (click here).

Windowsmarketplace.com is a useful website for buying software from Microsoft and other companies and it stores software details – including registration keys – in a digital locker for download at your convenience.

You'll recall that Microsoft doesn't allow Europeans to access this useful service, and I wanted to know why. As we went to press with the magazine last month the company wasn't able to tell me and, despite a repeated request for information, that's still the situation. I'll keep you updated.

Interestingly, if you live in Germany, Japan, Korea or Russia you can buy software and hardware from Microsoft Catalogue sites. There's no digital locker facility, though, and the range of products is limited.

Still, even Microsoft's UK-phobia is trumped by Sony and the whole PS3 debacle.

Read more - UK: the poor cousin part II - the great PlayStation 3 rip-off