More redirect problems as Google alters Mobile YouTube for Windows Phone

We’re not sure what’s going on over at Google but either incompetence or the trolling bug has seized control of operations. Last week we saw a purposeful redirect of maps.google.com send Windows Phone users to the search page instead of allowing them to use Maps (Google later backed down) and now today it’s affecting YouTube.

The behavior is specific: head to m.youtube.com and click any video. In the past, such an action would launch Internet Explorer’s HTML5 video player, allowing Windows Phone users to watch just about everything that was mobile (assuming it wasn’t a Flash-only video). Now on Windows Phone 8 devices we get prompted to install an app.

While installing an app to watch a video may not seem like such a Herculean feat, we have to remember one thing here: we don’t have a YouTube app. Okay, technically we have the Microsoft YouTube player, which is just a front for the website, but the App prompt won’t actually reveal that. Instead, when a user clicks the “Search for app in the Store?” dialog box they are met with “Sorry, no apps found”.

Since as we mentioned the official Microsoft YouTube app is just a website wrapper, it exhibits the same behavior. The only opportunity users have would be to opt for a third party solution like Metrotube, SuperTube or PrimeTube. But when you search under ‘YouTube’ in the Store, those apps are slightly buried below some nonsense apps.

So what’s going on here (Windows Phone 8)?

As far as we can tell, the problem stems from Windows Phone 8 users using the default setting of Desktop Mode in Internet Explorer. Even though users can still navigate to m.youtube.com and view the mobile version of that site, videos simply will not play in that mode (on Windows Phone 7 devices where they don’t have the App Search ability, videos simply don’t play).

Switching to the Mobile view in Internet Explorer appears to alleviate the problem.

While that hardly seems like a terrible situation, it is causing confusion amongst users since the behavior has seemingly changed starting January 10th/11th for an unknown reason.

Reader complaints have started rolling in...

It gets worse for Windows Phone 7 users...

On Windows Phone 7 the problem is even worse as Desktop mode or Mobile version both don't work on m.youtube.com anymore at all. That differs from Windows Phone 8 devices where switching to Desktop Mode appears to "get around" the block.

One solution for some is to clear all of their Search History (cookies, passwords, websites) and restart the phone. Not an obvious solution but it seems to work.

Focus of continued problem

Google has famously stated that they have no plans to make official apps for Windows Phone and Microsoft has alleged twice that the company refuses to grant them meta-data access to allow them to make a high-quality YouTube app for their users.

Most Windows Phone users rely on Internet Explorer and HTML5 to view videos and although that still technically works, with Google disabling support for the desktop version it will cause usability problems. And Windows Phone 7 users are evidently just out of luck unless they clear all browser history and reboot their phones.

Much like the Google Maps issue, we’re not sure why Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Phone 8 would cause difficulties with YouTube. After all, the browser has the same rendering engine as the Windows 8 desktop version and is for all intents and purposes, the same browser. Like the Google Maps fiasco, Google must be targeting the “Windows Phone” string in the browser ID for whatever reason. When users switch to “Mobile view” this alters the browser string and since that has not been disabled by Google/YouTube, it works (at least for us).

Perhaps Google/YouTube are just making some backend changes or even more unlikely, Microsoft was granted permission to release an official app for YouTube (we’ll hold our breath). Either way, if you’re having problems viewing YouTube, let us know in comments including your OS and browser settings.


Reader comments

More redirect problems as Google alters Mobile YouTube for Windows Phone


I had that problem. All you have to do is set you internet setting to mobile and clear all your cookies and etc

Not working on Windows Phone 7 (HTC Arrive) even after doing that, so...no?

Edit: Clearing all IE history and restarting phone does seem to alleviate it. Not obvious for most users but it works.

Ahh idk i have the 920. But thats how i got rid of it. Most google issues i noticed can be fixed with setting it to mobile

Daniel, I have the HTC Arrive (7.10.8773.98) and I am not having any YouTube issues, either browsing from m.youtube.com or direct links.

No YouTube issues here, either. LG Quantum running Tango with IE in Desktop mode. Hey! I was even able to edit this comment now!

Maybe it's specific to people that login to YouTube. That would explain why deleting cookies and restarting helps. I don't login to the evilness that is Google and their crappy video site came up just fine.


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I had no issues with my initial brief testing.  I just went to m.youtube.com and tried playing the top two videos (a Pierce Morgan clip and "Froggy Fresh - Same Old Kid") successfully.  I did nothing to my Lumia 920, and the "Website preference" in IE was already at "Mobile Version."  Not sure if this is just a bug that is random, or specific videos.
BTW, I tried both when my device was on WiFi and LTE.  No affect.  Not sure what's going on.

So, I did another test.  I removed the Microsoft YouTube app from my Lumia (which was playing videos just fine without error), and I am prompted to "Search for app in the store" message.  After installing it again, videos did NOT start playing.
So, I deleted the Browser Cache/History, did NOT restart my device, and videos started playing again.  So I guess the key is to delete browser cache/history after installing the MS YouTube app, if you have browsed to m.youtube.com.

I have a Sprint Arrive and I get all YouTube Videos from SuperTube or Internet Explore. I have my Explore set for Desktop but it alway go to YouTube Mobile. I keep checkin it by watching random videos to see if it still works and it does. Good Luck out there.

Much like the Google Maps issue, this could be regional and spread out. Indeed, due to the nature of Google's services and websites, we expecct that.

Also, you didn't specify your device or OS, so it's hard to make use of your info.

Lumia 920, windows phone 8 portico, and my region is pacific Canada. I should add that I have the "YouTube" app by MS already installed.

I'm not having the issue! I'm in the middle east and I have YouTube application and I can play my videos either mobile view or desktop view! Try again and check probably it was a bug

Nope, not a bug. Here in the Netherlands I cant view videos using the m.mobile site, although of I view the desktop site it works. (htc 8x, portico, browser setting on desktop)

I've seen the message even when I used my focus back in the days. I don't think this is problem that google is causing. You need the YouTube app from the store. Download it and try.

i was trying to set up the YouTube pairing with the Xbox app last night, and on their site when I would type in the code it would enter numbers twice for each tap.  When I tried to paste int he numbers from a copy/paste it wouldn't take them.  They have completely screwed up the site for IE9 mobile.

Working just fine here on my Lumia 920. I use Metrotube most of the time anyway, but sometimes the mobile site is useful. Though I'm certainly not having any issues with the mobile site...

While the ONLY 'Google' service I knowingly use is YouTube, I use it quite infrequently. It amazes me that they skipped right on through any FCC anti-trust investigations while they continue to perform these 'EVIL' tactics.

Google can eat shit. They had to be called out about the Google maps issue (on their own site btw) in a YouTube video to unbreak maps. I have been having this YouTube issue for weeks now.

Google's answer will be "Windows Phones aren't powerful enough to run YouTube" very much same answer as google maps...

Would love to know then why my friends galaxy Y does display youtube just fine. :P And it barely is powerful enough to run android ffs.. ^^

My sisters L610 outperforms most android phones of the same class to date. I think because android takes a higher rated system just to function, they believe all other OS must be the same.

Man this seems like the start of something ugly...I have a nexus phone but I still don't like what google is doing to you wp fans.

Thanks. It's rather crappy of them, right? I was down with Android at first but not anymore. There is absolutely no reason for them to alienate users simply because we choose not to use their OS. Some of us are still users of their other properties. I'm slowly weaning myself off of GMail because of these problems.

Yeah.. Video plays fine on my Lumia 920 when IE10 on "mobile" preference. But when I put it on "desktop" mode it prompts to 'search app'.. F*ing Google.. goddamn they are scared of WP8. Makes me hate them more and more...

Hey Daniel! Thanks for bringing this issue to light but know that this problem was happening for me and many others long before a few days ago. Just check out the review comments on the MS Youtube video. When I switch to mobile version I am able to view the videos now.

Could be, who knows what goes on at Google. All we know is we've had a higher than usual rate of specific complaints about YouTube in the last 48 hours, hence our post. 

Thanks Daniel. I appreciate the post. I initially wrote to say that this wasn't a new issue, but since it is more widespread it's nice to see it being made public.

Yep, I've had this issue since I got the 920 at BUILD in October! I've just stopped using m.youtube.com and instead just use Metro or Super Tube.

Don't worry, Google will come out saying that YouTube doesn't work with webkit browsers and never has, and then everyone will believe them... because they're not evil right?

I have also had this problem in the past, with my 8x and 822. Sometimes it will just say that ie can not play flash, if I refresh the page it the video will play. Then other times it will prompt to download an app. This seems like coding in ie or something on googles side. It does not always happen, but when it does its a pain in the ass. I will usually just search for the video on metrotube. I hope one day they add an option to launch metrotube when you play a video from YouTube in ie. Wishful thinking, but it should be possible, if it is on other mobile oses.

Theoretically it should be should be completely possible for MetroTube to handle it. The developers just need to bind their app to the correct URL scheme or file extension and then figure out what to do with the data provided.

The smart user uses a third party app like Metro Tube or Super Tube. The only down side of that is that you can't get there by clicking links. If only we could set a default player....

Then we have to force Microsoft to allow us set some programs to default in light of the confrontational attitude of google.
Another thing we must do is to let more people know the evil practices google is now known for. I used to be a great google fan until they bought YOUTUBE. I was on youtube before google's purchase. After they consolidated, we the people that had no google account were made to quit or get a google account. That was not very nice. Google will break their neck if they continue along this part soon or later. Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall.

@ Hopmedic:
The "smart user" usually doesn't post a comment saying the smart user does XXXXXXXXX.  It is usually a stupid or arrogant user (or both) who chooses to define a universal reality in terms of one's own personal preferences. 

For those having the issue, try this. Go to the page on your PC and be signed in. Go to your account settings for YouTube and tell it to use the html5 player. Now go back to your phone and make sure you are signed in to the site and see if it plays then.
It seems to me that what is happening here is that when your browser is in desktop mode Google is treating it just like a desktop browser. That means serving up videos using Flash Player as the default. I think it is less likely a malicious action and more likely sloppy programming on the part of Google.

Edit: okay, looks like that didn't work. However I did find that after opting into HTML5 I was able to play videos from the desktop site.

I've had this issue since I got my phone in late December. This isn't new. I also changed my settings to mobile view which initially fixed it but on certain videos it still happens. I just got Metrotube which looks better anyways.

I started a thread on the forum about a week or two ago.

I believe that if you switch to mobile view, play a vid, then switch back to desktop it will be okay. But if you launch the YouTube apps again it messes up again.

Pretty ridiculous.

Google = A bunch of tools.. Why for the love of god are they punishing the end user? I understand the problem they have with MS but lets see.. What can we (Google) do .. Lets piss off our customer base! For this BS will be the reason I never own an Android anything. Thanks Toolgle!

i am not seeing any issues using my Lumia 800 (7.5 mango) in India.
I saw this update and verified this problem for my phone - it isn't there. Is this specific to WP8 devices??

Works for me... I am not on the mobile version though. On a UK 920. Working fine. In fact, it was the mobile version I had issues with.

And google think these antics will ever convince me to move to Android?? Nope... If I ever leave the WP fold foe some reason, shit like this means I'll be off to Apple.

Samsung focus, mobile browser settings, and I never would have known about this problem if I didn't see it here. I watch a lot of YouTube, I did find metro tube and I like the UI alot better but I never had problems watching videos..

Hmm Google seems to be waging a secret war here. I only use youtube from Google now... but it would seem that im not even going to use that so much any more lol! Big bad Google.

Microsoft has been mentioning how Google is scroogling their own customers.
Google is now showing how they can f*ck Microsoft's customers.
Basically Google is saying: you're either getting scroogled or f*cked by us, it's your choice.

Wait until windows phones passes android sales they will pour all thier applications into our app store

Seems to only affect users who are signed into YouTube. Very annoying. If I sign out the videos play just fine, if I sign in then it redirects me to the app store and tells me there is no app available.  
No excuse for this to be happening when IE10 on PC and phone are so similar. Google is obviously trying to frustrate Windows Phone users.

Not true for me. Lumia 920 here and not signed in. On 'mobile' preference didn't prompt and worked just fine. On 'desktop' it prompted to find an 'app'.

Microsoft needs to make a solid alternative to youtube and create some good incentives for people to ditch the google corrupted ****.

Working well with my HTC 8x from Verizon, Mobil or desktop versions, calling a video from a link or any other option...different videos, switching videos, the same video ...everything works...

It works in desktop not mobile. Your article says the default setting is desktop when indeed it is default to mobile. It works fine in desktop but mobile asks me to use an app.

I cant get any love from youtube or metro tube on my 920, youtube pops up with a message saying "Sorry, we can play this file on your phone" no matter what I try desktop or mobile and signing out, whereas metrotube just does nothing when I click play on a video, starts to load then just loops back to the start again

Grandpa Focus here, from Puerto Rico, no problems. But now that I spoke, we'll probably get added to the black list!!!!

If Google wants to keep screwing Microsoft over, Microsoft should simply remove everything Google from there OS. That is of course if they can do that. If so, Google would really start crying!!!!

I'm not sure about this one.

Playing vids on m.youtube.com didn't work in desktop mode on my UK L920, I switched to mobile mode, hit refresh and it worked fine.

I do get that message every time I use a Video link in the WPCentral app though. The only way around it is to browse the page with the embedded video.

Question: You don't think it's odd that Desktop IE10 cannot view videos on m.youtube.com?

Yet the distinction doesn't exist on IE9. Even still, it's all just adding up to a poor user experience.

How many people will know that they have to switch to Mobile to view what looks to be the exact same site? If Google would just allow a proper YouTube client, this wouldn't be a problem.

Gaddammit Google, stop fracking around! Go pester Apple or sumthin. Where's Anonymous when ya need em... Sjeez.

Some folks need to calm down with the "war" rhetoric, lol.
Like someone said, I would like to see MS create and put real effort into an alternative to Youtube. Its obviously not as easy as it sounds (with YT mindshare and massive popularity). But then Youtube wasn't built in a day. Maybe as some have mentioned previously, purchase one of the other YT like sites and go from there. And to show that you are willing to share with others on other platforms, build an app for all major devices. And promote the hell out of it.

I sincerely belief that google is concerned with windows phone 8 as a viable competition. The way that get out of their way to say that they will not be producing app for WP8. I know 5 people that had android and now proud owner of windows phone 8 ( Lumia and 8X). And when you consider that the majority of android share is on the low end, Nokia with and HTC 8S have viable competition with an arguably better and smoother experience. With the release of windows phone 8, google has Microsoft on its sight as a competition. Remember that the success had to do partly with carriers pushing the OS. The same can happen with WP8.

Yeah, good argument

We post emails in the article from people telling us their having a problem and we confirmed it on our devices, but YOU are okay, so the whole world must be fine.

Haha yeah, it seems a lot of people think like that! The same goes when people say something like "I need more storage" and half of the responses are "I don't need it, so you shouldn't either"

I just wish Microsoft took them to court. I used to be a Google user and I've slowly but surely switched to other services when available. YouTube sadly is an exception and it's aggravating to see how blatantly they're blocking a new platform that is clearly superior to their crappy iOS rip off. I had two android phones before my current one, mostly because of Apple's stupid exclusivity with AT&T in the US, and I can honestly say my WP8 is the best phone I've ever owned.I enjoy using it even more than my other iOS devices. Google must know that people are starting to discover WP8 and they're afraid, hence their shameless attempt to block it.

Question: Why *wouldn't* you set your browser to mobile mode? So many websites now format correctly in mobile mode so...yeah? Desktop mode is for very unique situations usually, so I'm not sure why using mobile mode isn't ideal, when it is the most ideal mode available.
Anywho, I'm on a WP7 so I'm buggered either way, but yeah that confused me.

I *much* prefer Desktop Mode, thank you very much. The whole point of having the same rendering engine on all devices (phone, tablet, primary) is to avoid the whole need for different mobile sites. I specifically design my full browser site to be touch/mobile friendly so that I'm not maintaining two templates.

my lumia 920 is in desktop mode and face the same issue. I am from Hong Kong. Only the desktop version is viewable.

it seems you have to view youtube in the mode you set IE settings.. i have mine on desktop mode.. i have the error on mobile mode but works ok on desktop mode.. i use lumia920 w/o portico update (not yet available on SG)..

I've had this problem since just before Christmas, I fixed it once then it happend again. So I went with another option just to use the regular desktop version of the site, all the videos work with the exception of live streams.

You know what's funny? Even if my phone is set to desktop, google always takes me to their [severely limited] mobile version of any of their websites (search, YouTube, Gmail, etc). My main thing is my Gmail, which I don't put in outlook due to the amount of junk mail. Nothing ever loads correctly and pictures don't load at all so you have to switch to html for it to be useable. If you happen to ever search google in ie, the results will be completely redone (once you click on a site) to be the google mobile version of the site, which is complete fecal matter. So it's funny that in this one case it does the opposite and goes to the desktop version. Its almost as if google is trying to make the WP experience as frustrating as possible for google products. Experience from an HD7 here.

yes, i just noticed this problem today in the morning, and switching the browser setting back to mobile did not help, i only have my lumia 920 for 3 days, and this is definitely not helping the experiance, and on friday my phone turned off suddenly, i though it bricked completely, then read online to try hard reset etc. not cool, i am also experiancing short battery life, but i am gonna give it a week before judging it, as a lot of people have reported significant improvment over a couple of recharge cycles...

Mostly no problems on my Lumia 810. I do get the occasional "playback on mobile devices is not supported" message, so I've gotten used to copying the ID and pasting it into Tube Pro (free).

I have NOT had any problem with my Lumia 800. So it's NOT a general problem. Sorry to burst the Google-Hating-Bubble. There may be a problem, but it's obviously not affecting all phones.

You people are pathetic.  Just pathetic.  Please objectively report facts.  Earlier when maps. google.com was unavailable on the IE "browser", it didn't take you to just a search page...it took you to local search since your inferior browser can't handle the actual page....and now that you can't access a certain website in your Internet Explorer "browser" when in a certain mode, you throw another fit.  You can color this emotionally if you want., but to me, it seems like whining.   What is more, it stems from a limitation in your own browser.  Nobody cares if you hate Google.  I just came here to laugh out loud at how pedantic your objections to Google seem.  

Quit monitoring Google as if you have no life, and innovate your own shit.  Sheesh, Google and Android users wont ever similarly focus on Microflop...because there is no reason to...they don't have anything worth focusing on... 

Nah.. Google just blocked WP phones using UserAgent string. And I bet they are doing something similar with youtube. It had nothing to do with browser being "incompatible". You fail at trolling.

It's clearly not google blocking the agent string or else no WP would work, which is clearly not true if you read the comments on here with people saying they've never had the issue and others saying they fixed it by clearing their cache.
This points directly at an issue in IE and not Youtube. 
This can easily be proved by using a plug in on the desktop to replicate the WP agent string.

Google Maps was blocking using UserAgent. That was proven by lots of people and Google gave a complete BS answer about WebKit. I hinted that they might be doing something "similar". I bet there are lots of other ways to break compatibility. How do you figure it's the problem of IE, and has nothing to do with Youtube? The fact that it's something that USED to work, but doesn't work anymore, clearly points to Google direction.. I doubt my IE has suddenly changed somehow.

With all the hassles that running Youtube are creating why don't Microsoft and Nokia post their own videos both on YouTube and also somewhere else such as Vimeo or Metacafe, and link only to the non-Youtube link.  Same for any other companies trying to post information that they want to go out to everyone.
As right now Youtube just isn't compatible with standard hardware, and even worse is a moving target.  It really isn't worth supporting in its current state.

Don't know if anyone said this already but this is probably a redirect issue dealing with which store the page is trying to send you to. They might've done a browser check but not an os check, maybe the page just sees the ie version and assumes windows 8 so it throws out the error and attempts to send you to the windows 8 store rather than the wp8 store.