YouTube Access and Windows Phone: Microsoft throws down the gauntlet

This one has been brewing for a while and it seems that the rhetoric is now stepping up as Microsoft and Google prepare to do battle. The stage has been set and much of the coming drama will focus on Windows Phone.

Microsoft has today written publically about Google’s direct refusal to open up YouTube access so that Windows Phone users can easily use the service when mobile, something we first reported back in March 2011. The plot thickens when we learn that Microsoft has a high quality YouTube app ready to release. Don’t be evil, read on past the break to find out more.

In the lengthy post released today Dave Heiner wrote about Microsoft’s on-going concerns about Google’s misconduct on a number of issues. Here are some of the key points relating to how this is affecting Windows Phone.

“In 2010 and again more recently, Google blocked Microsoft’s new Windows Phones from operating properly with YouTube. Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favourites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones. It’s done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn’t offer a competing search service.

Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”  - Dave Heiner Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

“We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”

I recently wrote in length on the situation with a lack of Google Apps and services for Windows Phone. While I argued that many of the services are simply not needed there remain gaps where Microsoft does not offer a competing offering. One such example and source of much discussion was that of YouTube, the official app from Microsoft is not only weak it was recently rendered non-working by API changes.We do have capable replacements but they are all regularly broken by these changes and it’s disastrous for the many users who wish to access the service. 

YouTube Access and Windows Phone: Microsoft throws down the gauntlet

Google is a web company and so it is natural to think that its services should be easily accessible with the built in HTML 5 compliant Internet Explorer. Sadly we also see examples of requests for certain pages to be redirected back to the Google landing page. There is much to suggest that Google sees Windows Phone as a natural competitor to its market share in mobile due to the similarities in how the OS is delivered through independent manufacturers.

"Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone.."

Even under the scrutiny of regulators in the US and the EU, Google continue to actively deny Microsoft fair access to their services on Windows Phone. The recent post from Microsoft shows that they are going to peruse these incidents openly. Microsoft are highlighting Windows Phone as a key area of open denial to services but also mention patent issues and complaints about Search.

“Despite government scrutiny, Google continues to block Microsoft from offering its customers proper access to YouTube. This is an important issue because consumers value YouTube access on their phone: YouTube apps on the Android and Apple platforms were two of the most downloaded mobile applications in 2012, according to recent news reports. Yet Google still refuses to allow Windows Phone users to have the same access to YouTube that Android and Apple customers enjoy. Microsoft has continued to engage with YouTube personnel over the past two years to remedy this problem for consumers. As you might expect, it appears that YouTube itself would like all customers – on Windows Phone as on any other device – to have a great YouTube experience. But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.” - Dave Heiner Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

The odd thing here is that it sounds like Google execs are blocking YouTube from providing this service to Windows Phone users. YouTube have an app for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console and of course uses the Windows operating system as the main delivery method for all its services through its own Google Chrome browser and Internet Explorer. Why should the web advertising company feel so threatened by Windows Phone considering the currently small market share it possesses?

"But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.."

One glaring answer for all this malice from Google could of course be their simmering rage that Microsoft is now allegedly making more money from Android than Google itself. Microsoft has been busy behind closed doors signing everyone using Android to pay royalties on each device sold. Some believe that Google should be charged with dumping their OS in the marketplace, making a product free that’s based on long held patents for which it has not paid. 

One thing is for certain, the battle between these two giants is only getting started. We would hope that some sensible agreement between the two companies can be reached before it comes to blows. As this tit for tat ramps up could we see Microsoft block Google from its operating systems? We have already seen Google drop consumer support for ActiveSync which will directly affect users and make it harder for those with Gmail accounts to use Windows Phone. As entertaining as it would be to see these two go head to head it will only hurt users in the long run.

We’d like to hear from you guys on what you think about this on-going drama and ideas for what can be done about it. Comments are now open, so sound off.

Source: Technet (Microsoft); via ZDNet Mary Jo Foley


Reader comments

YouTube Access and Windows Phone: Microsoft throws down the gauntlet



No analysis needed.
Google sucks for doing this.
When I first read about sh** like this from Google (first with Gmail, and now Youtube?),
I decided to stop using Gmail altogether.

I'm a WP fan and if Google wants me to pick, I pick WP!

I imported all my emails to my new Outlook account using Microsoft Trueswitch. It worked like a charm..
and the rest is.. history.

@Machina - Agreed....  I switched to an Outlook . com account and used Trueswitch to transfer all of my emails.  Now I only use my gmail account to log into Google+ and Google Voice.
I actually owe google a thank you for finally making it hurt enough to make the switch.

I wonder... should Microsoft ban Chrome from the desktop OS ? Just to see how Google will react to that..

A few years ago, Google fought MS for system-wide search rights on Vista, and the EU forced MS to offer some choices (if I remember it correctly). It seems petty now for Google to do this via YouTube, but MS would be fined for such a move to restrict Chrome on Windows, and all the "monopoly" police would be out in force.

Microsoft SHOULD threaten Google with dumping their services if they don't cooperate more.  Why should Microsoft have to play ball with Google but Google be allowed to refuse services that they only acquired in recent years (meaning their YouTube acquisition, which I feel was a TERRIBLE thing for users/consumers) to a company that is the sole reason of why they exist in the first place?  How high is the percentage of YouTube hits coming from Windows operating systems?  I'd venture to guess at least 80%.  Before there was Chrome it was mostly IE and some Firefox access.  I bet the YouTube crew are sad that they can't fully extend onto the Windows Phone platform.  If this continues, I hope Microsoft stab Google in the back by shutting the company out entirely (if they can find a way to do it without having their hand forced by government officials to overturn).  We'll see how long they last at that point.  No it's not all good for consumers, but porting your calendars and email from one service to the next is pretty easy.  Nobody's going to miss Google+ or GooglePlay on PC's anyways.

If I were actually a google fan... +1

But I refuse to use google services (excluding YouTube, cause there's no viable alternative)... especially the silly and useless google+

I am much same as you. The only google service i will use is YouTube. 
It's just a shame you have to go for a third party app such as MetroTube to have a good experience with it on Windows Phone.
Albeit MetroTube is great but most people won't want to pay for a YouTube app when there should be a decent quality native version.

I only  used to use Youtube, that was it. I paid for metrotube and am very happy. I have twins and wanted to get 2 Surface tablets for my 7.75 year olds. Lets see. $1100 for 2 Surface versus $460 for 2 android tablets that will get trashed. I brokedown. I will still get 2 Surface tabs for the wife and I. I used to be Total MS, I will never breakdown for iCrap.

I signed up for smartphones and tablets when my kids were in womb to make sure they were cool when they were born.

YouTube and Google Reader are the only Google services I currently use. I wish I could get rid of them but there's not a suitable replacement, especially for YouTube.

Anyway, I'm really not liking Google at all. They are becoming what they rejected.

I'm in the same boat.  Someone pointed me to Nextgen Reader until I realized it is just an interface to Google Reader.  *sigh*

What video sharing site does Metrotube interface with? Third party RSS are cool but what about when I want to read them on my computer or tablet? This is why Google Reader is great because it keeps your feeds information synced no matter what device you access it from.

this is why there should be a replacement for YouTube. A MS owned service. I am done with google. It is either MS products and worse case apple

I agree. Why not start your own video service & call it SkyView or something relevant to MS. Look how much ground Vevo is starting to pick up. I say go for the gusto & bring in something new. YouWho?

You got it wrong. They never rejected it. They were always hypocritical bastards but and the signs were always there but now that they are in a position of power it becomes obvious to everybody.


Totally in the same boat. There's still nothing better than GReader, and YouTube is still great.


Personally, I don't care that much about either of them - YouTube's mobile browser site is perfectly adequate for my needs, and there are GRreader clients (such as FeedWorm) for WP7 that kick many kinds of arse.


But despite my personal nonchalance, I think if MS is good at anything, it's business tactics. Google has long been seen as a kind of benefactor, a giver-away of good free stuff. MS is one of the few businesses with the power to drag them through the mud and take off a bit of that shine.

They already should. They have overstepped the bounds of fair competition MANY MANY times. 

Look at what they are doing towards Microsoft through Motorolla.

Anti trust suit! Lolz! If there was, it would have happened a year or two ago. If it doesn't have MS attached to the suit, nothing will happen.

Actually, the FTC is often the party to initiate an antitrust suit with the goal of consumer protection, and such a suit can take years to research prior to filing.

I'm confused on this one. Is Google just changing the API to actively deny Microsoft, or is Google changing the API and that breaks Microsoft's app until it's updated to work with the new changes to the API?

They changed the API and the dev of a WP youtube app has already said that they have the fix in and waiting for apporval. 

The breaking of the API is something completely different. 

Google won't allow Microsoft to legally access HD YouTube videos on mobile. The third-party apps on the WP Store do this by technically bypassing Google's API, in other words, they violate Google's usage request.

The reason why MS can't release their own MetroTube is because they're obviously under a lot more scrutiny and can't get away with what indie devs are doing.

Has Google not released their own YouTube app for Windows Phone? I'm wondering if there's more to the story than we publicly see. Google makes the app for both Android and Apple. Regardless, thanks for the insight into this situation.

No, Google refuses to make apps for Windows Phone, and does whatever it can to stop any apps meant to use Google services not work correctly.

Thats a service that Google doesn't update too often. Also, it doesn't require devs to skirt around Google with undocumented APIs like Youtube does.

Based on the article, I'd say it's the former, especially when the article quotes "We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”. 
From that, it sounds like the app isn't broken due to changes in API, but that the app can't even access Youtube simply because Google just says no. 
But that's based on this article.  I haven't really looked for any other sources of info that supports this or gives the other side of the story yet.

This is exactly what I was saying, I absolutely believe the win phone is a direct competitor to the android OS and google is showing fear by actually blocking the devices.

MS should have bought You Tube before Google got their hands on it, I was surprised they didn't at the time.

Based off of MS's past success with buying stuff, YT would of been renamed 3 times, would of folded into Live, before untimatly being killed in favor of XboxTube after they spent 1.3 billion on it. 

I already stopped using Chrome on my computer and stopped using Gmail. From now on, bye bye YouTube. I will use Bing/MSN videos and Vimeo.

Yup. I did this:
GMAIL ->Outlook
Google Apps -> Skydrive
Chrome -> IE
Google -> BING (reluctantly going back if I need search by date)
All my audio is with iTunes until MS have a music locker and music matching working 100% then I am off Apple too.
YouTube is the only thing left. MS need to win this somehow.

Me too:
Gmail -> Outlook
Chrome (as secondary browser) -> Firefox (as secondary browser)
Google -> Bing
Picasa -> Live Photo gallery (and some other programs)
I even looked into Vimeo, but it isn't the same. There is no YouTube alernative.

I have already migrated away from Gmail but the one thing that I don't see myself moving away from, is YouTube. No other VOD service can match it in content right now, and I don't see that changing either.

Just ported my Google Voice number to ATT - that was the last of my Google accounts that I actually use...

I wish there was something that was equivalent out there, but there isn't.  GV is more than a nice-to-have for me.  It's a way of life.

Yes, but not because of this although it does underscore the problem. They are starting to abuse power.

Yea, I already started doing this too. I started well before these issues and for different reasons, but this just confirms my decision. I haven't found a good alternative for google reader though. There are other RSS apps, but nothing that syncs across the phone and computer. Unless I completely missed something. As far as YouTube is concerned, I don't see me giving up on that anytime soon. I don't even think I know anyone that knows what Vimeo is. I am fine with saying "I don't have that app" but not with saying, "I can't watch that YouTube vid, upload it to Vimeo"

The only google service I have actively used is YouTube..i have never used Gmail,etc actively. I have a Gmail account only for Gtalk and YouTube.. Man, I sometimes can't believe that google has gotten into every sphere of virtual life..damn!!

After Google's Gmail fiasco I went over to outlook full time. I still use YouTube and Google reader though as I haven't found any suitable alternatives.

Would it make sense for Microsoft to create a free video hosting service like YouTube?  Maybe integrate it with SkyDrive somehow?
Google makes money of ads, but Microsoft has a different business model, so I don't know how they would make money on something like this.

What MS should do is buy Vimeo, it's already a good alternative to YouTube. It just needs more promotion and content, Done right it could easily overtake YouTube and its annoying UI changes


Microsoft has dabbled with video services but YouTube is something they couldn’t really compete with at this point. There are services like Vevo and Vimeo which have nice apps for Windows Phone but this isn’t really YouTube beating stuff. 

MS had something like Youtube but it never really took off.  I can't even remember what it was called.  In the end Youtube gained the brand recognition first and that is all that matters.  Thats why MS paid 9 billion dollars for Skype even though their already had VOIP technology of their own.

It was called MSN Soapbox, or officially, Soapbox on MSN Video. It started in 2006, and was shut down in August 2009 as it never really took off.

You create an awesome video service and then you only allow access to xbox live gold subscribers. 
You give a watered down version available to general users (AKA xbox live silver subscribers) but you use BING ads on the page
This gives you added Gold subscriptions and causes some people to think "Hey, I already have a Gold Subscription..let me get an xbox and check this out too"

Does Google somehow lose out on ad revenue through this mobile app, becasue I see no reason why they would block anyone even Microsoft as long as they are still getting their due, especially if someone else already did the developement for the app.

Do it. Block Google products from installing in Windows. See how fast they change their tune. LOL.
Just uninstalled Chrome.

They can't do that, that would be like the most anti-competitive move in the history of anti-competitive moves

I think it should be mentioned right now that Chrome is built of the Chromium project which is effectively the same browser without googles input.
I personally use a browser called Comodo which is built off Chromium but with better security features.

If microsoft would just add scripting to IE then i would be devoid of this completely but they just never seem to...

Surprisingly, IE10 works better and it's faster than Chrome on Windows 8 so I didn't even bother installing Chrome. And now after reading this article, I don't think I will ever use a Google service again... I hope. Wish me luck.

At least redirect users to their open letter about Google's evil ways before letting them get to YouTube.

Two things:
1. There is an MSN Videos app that does
2. Bing Videos is actually integrated into the Bing Search "app" on Windows Phone 8.  So no need for a seperate app.

Anti competitive behavior from Google? Who didn't see that coming?

Microsoft can exercise some serious klout with their OS and their enterprise offerings. MS could make life difficult for Google if it so chooses.

Google sucks man not only do I dislike their mobile stuff but I really REALLY HATE THAT THEY FUCKED UP YOUTUBE FUCK ADS

Yeah the ad situation on Youtube is getting out of control. I use to listen to music on it a lot, but I had to give up because every song was preceded by 30 second political campaign commercials.

Its basically an ad-porn site. Let them continue though. They're just paving the way for a new and better video site

Basically there is no public API for YouTube and they don't want to make a native app for WP or give anyone else access to the private API to make a 3rd party app.  I guess it's within their right to do so, but it seems like a lame move by Google, espcially when MS is willing to do the work to make an app for them.

Google needs to get there hands slapped hard. This is so anti-competitive it's silly its been allowed to go on this long.

A part of me wants to see a really bloody battle where Microsoft steps up and body slams Google on the mat at the end. The other half wants a nice resolution where all services work on all platforms.
SMACK! The nice half just got beat down by the battle half.
Let's Rumble!

Simple..Microsoft threaten to block google.com on desktops ( at a stroke Google would lose 50 % of its income )....then see them squirm. Hopefully it all gets sorted amicably but when company resort to blatant protectionism...some times only the big stick works.

"But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.”   Where's the proof? What did you learn? Does google have someone working there named "YouTube"? Sounds like this should be rated a 1 on the rumor meter. But I guess it gets clicks eh. 

Your tone is quitte disparaging and if you follow our links, you would get the whole story. But I'll hold your hand on this one since you're having trouble:

"Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide."

-- Brad Smith, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Microsoft

The person who you're quoting in the article is the Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Dave Heiner of Microsoft. So I'm not sure how this would be classified a "rumor" unless you're just calling Microsoft liars?

I don't follow links if I don't know what you are linking too. You may see the comment as disparaging, I see the comment as asking questions that wasn't answered.
I see that the article has been updated to show what exactly MS is talking about in the article. MY comment wasn't about the article itself, more so about the the comment MS made as to what it "learned" and how it learned such infomation. 

So, you are just a person who blindly reads "articles" or "blogs" on the Interwebz, yet doesn't follow up on the source links that are provided so you learn the whole story, or what is being discussed?  Mm-kay.  Love that logic of yours.

google feels stronger then microsoft windows, are they? would people stop using windows system if they didn't let  you tube, crome browser or google search on it? would all those users switch to mac? maybe this is something to think about, people would need a replacement of youtube, people use it alot


Well, that is pretty much what many Windows Phone users have been forced into. This is a real shame as its causing issues for users, some of whom have little idea how to cope with such a change.

I don’t think we can expect to see a peaceful end to this situation. Only more issues lay ahead.

I realize this is pure fantasy, but until MS is supporting all of EAS on WP, I can't do anything but shake my head at this angle...  Yes, google is redefining evil protectionism, and it is negatively impacting those of us who use WP.  But I haven't been able to use my corporate email on my phone for 2 years because WP7 doesn't support device encryption.  And now WP8 doesn't support removable storage, even on the devices that don't have removable storage.  Several co-workers jumped on the 920 only to find that it won't work with our EAS.  They all got returned, and went with Android, maybe one of them with iOS.  Until that gets fixed, EAS is NOT a valid bargaining chip.

WP7.x devices don't (and won't) support encryption, but all WP8 devices are already encrypted and can be controlled via EAS policies (I'm using one right now with EAS that has encryption requirements - it forces a PIN and a few other settings with the lock screen and timeouts, but otherwise it works without issue).  If the 920 doesn't work with your EAS, the problem is probably with your EAS configuration (I've seen issues where EAS policies that require cards to be encrypted fail on WP8 devices that don't have card slots, but that's the only outlier I've seen - given email storage is always on-device for WP devices, it's a minor issue, but it exists and can cause devices that are encrypted to report as not).

No, WP8 still does not support all EAS policies. It's unbelievable and clearly another indicator that MS is not serious about pushing these devices into the enterprise. Alphanumeric unlock code is just one example.

Does Google somehow lose out on ad revenue through this mobile app, becasue I see no reason why they would block anyone even Microsoft as long as they are still getting their due, especially if someone else already did the developement for the app?

I don't think its the ad revenue more so the threat that WP is to Android. See MS is targeting Android for their lack of cohesive UI across devices, upgrade questionability (despite WP7 --> WP8), as well as the ability to offer different hardware choices unlike iOS. Google is just using what weapons they have to stifle WP before it reaches critical mass and they have a real problem on their hands. It sucks for us but thats business. In the meantime I've done what I can to support Microsoft and remove G from my life.

You know what would piss Google off? MS hijacking Android and steering its development course out of the hands of Google.

On the subject of YouTube, I could care less. I rarely use it and don't see it as an essential service in any way.
On the subject of one company limiting access to a competitor, that smacks of anti-competetive behavior and should be looked into. It shouldn't take a lawsuit to get action, regulators should be paying attention and already be involved. I'd guess they aren't though, since most of the media sees Google as the "upstart" and MS as the "evil empire", despite the facts of recent days putting the lie to that ongoing fallacy.
Unfortunately, most people don't look beyond the shallow, biased media reports.

Google are a bunch of cock knocker's and i will never go back to "open" Android. Trying to persuade everyone i know to do the switch.

I am not gonna engage in some of the usual anti-Google rhetoric that goes on here. But to say this is childish, petty, and stupid would be an understatement. As was pointed out, they have a 360 app that is pretty darn good. What is it about WP that has them acting this way? Its not like people don't want the app. So why alienate users like that?

People are reviewing the Google app with 1 star because of this as well.

Good way of showing our feelings

Just makes it difficult for us users. Causes more headaches and pain because someone wants to be greedy. This world is in serious trouble! People need to find Jesus!!

Never thought I'd see the day where I would stop using Google products. I was a staunch supporter for the longest time, but lately they've been leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

They're the same company.  Companies are always looking out for their own best interest, Google was never an exception.  Just for a long time their best interest aligned with a lot of consumer's best interests.  It seems that's becoming less and less the case.  The "Do No Evil" nonsense was probably the funniest catchphrase in the history of company propaganda.

Google should think again , maybe they have the biggest market share on the smartphone world but when it comes to Computers Microsoft is the King and i don't think they will permit this kind of behavior.......

Metrotube is working, but every time Google changes APIs it gets broken, then we have to wait for an update. Having an official solution would be the best.

I imagine if you drill down deep enough YouTube isn't the only service that Google have tainted for Microsoft users ...
For instance many applications, free or shareware, have 'an option' that is normally checked to install by default Google's Search Toolbar on Internet Explorer
Over the course of my career this toolbar is one of those things that inherantly degrade Internet Explorer's speed and capability (and I would hazard a guess this has been a ploy of Google's too), so users would move to Chrome or other browser. As soon as I see this toolbar on a PC that I'm working on and uninstall it, things just seem to operate better.
This is just my observation, YouTube degradation on WPhone is just one part of the shady business practices of Google. 

The tool bar nonsense disgusts me. Went round to my sister's once, she said her internet was really slow. I clicked internet explorer, holy cow, must have been 6 different toolbar things there, plus some shizzle that linked to a wallpapers site and those smiley things. Cunning buggers.

Google is just being dickish about the whole thing.  Ending EAS support hurts their OWN users. 
Regardless, I don't see how denying YouTube to Windows Phone is something that crosses the line into unfair practices.  Google is free to make apps available to whomever they wish.  Access isn't denied, but limited.  Still, Google is just acting dickish.  Microsoft would be wise to not retaliate by being restrictive in return. 

IMHO, if I were a Google World user, I would be looking to open a user account with any other company, right about now. In an all out war, MS would easily bury Google, unfortunately for the Google users and employees. Get your own domain or a Yahoo! account or an Outlook.com account and just stop worrying. I wouldn't want to go to sleep worrying about how healthy my online ecosystem is going to be when I wake up and whether or not I can access it through my pc or mobile device. Terrible to say, but denying their users access to their services just because they use a Windows Phone is not a responsible decision in today's technologically collaborative World and who knows to what drastic measures that island-esque business model could take them.

I'd say partner with Vimeo, just give them funding and support to increase the breadth of their video services and marketing.

MS can not block Google on their OS variants. That would get them into trouble with EU law. However, they can go to court in the EU and win this one hands down. In a way they are the precedent when they refused to publish Windows hidden api connections, they lost that suit and thus YouTube would certainty loose as well.

Ultimately, Google is just pissing off its own users. They should stop this childish behavior and embrace all platforms as a way to expand user-ship. If their products are good, then everyone will beat a path to their door.

Microsoft should all the sudden "break" all Google services for Windows. "Oops, we didn't realize that chrome was broken on the latest build, give us 6-8 months to fix that." or "sorry but a recent 'bug' is not allowing access to YouTube from IE, were working on a fix that'll be released sometime next year." That would make them change their tune real fast!

I worry that would somehow feed into the public perception that Microsoft is fundamentally failing and cause the google mouthpiece to incite a move to more of their services as a viable alternative. For some reason there is equal hate/apathy to Microsoft from the tech media... =/