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Instagram actively seeking and destroying photos published through third party apps [Update]

Those of us attempting to use Instagram on our Windows Phones are left with no alternative but to utilise third party solutions. These apps are solid offerings in place of an official app from Instagram, but of course we're essentially going through back doors to get our content published. All was well for a short while with uploads presently available for viewing, but Instagram has evidently had enough.

It would seem as though Instagram is cracking down on content uploaded and shared through third party apps as popular unofficial app Instance appears to have been blocked. We only just covered some issues with Instance, but Daniel Gary, developer of the app took to Twitter to keep everyone in the loop with what's happening:

Gary also states he's been in touch with Rudy Huyn, another Windows Phone developer who is looking to create an unofficial Instagram app. It would appear as though it's not just Instance that's affected. According to the Instance developer, Instagram is actively seeking out photos uploaded to the service through third party apps to remove them immediately.

One could assume that Instagram is tracking accounts that use unofficial apps, including Instance. Unfortunately there's little developers can do except work around the issue. After all, we're talking about reverse engineering APIs, which isn't exactly placing developers and users in Instagram's good books. That said, the service could quit wasting resourcing in battling uploads from third party apps and release an official solution already.

Gary has confirmed to The Verge that he's actively working on a fix, but the issue is affecting all users of Instance. "It’s their servers, their service. What I was doing was not approved by them and was using their private API." We'll monitor the situation, we're sure more will follow. For the time being, Daniel Gary has stated he's hidden Instance from the Store.

Update: An Instagram spokesperson has confirmed with The Verge that they recently made some API changes. They claim the changes are made to fight spam and increase security. The changes aren't targeted at any specific app, like Instance, and instead impact any app using Instagram outside of the official API. 

Source: Twitter (@danielgary), via: The Verge

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Reader comments

Instagram actively seeking and destroying photos published through third party apps [Update]

452 Comments

I find this to be completely ridiculous! This is the true definition of “anti-consumer”. How are new Os’s ever going to be able to deliver decent experiences if these companies act so selfishly. Okay, you’re not developing an app for Instagram, fine…but you’re not allowing people to use 3rd party apps, to use your services. What the hell is up with that? We all know the deal; no apps, no users. No users, no apps. How can any sort of real competition exist when even a giant like Microsoft can’t properly get their foot in the door.

Anyone who thinks we can have 4,5 and 6 OS’s are simply mad! Do you know how many OS’s will rule the majority of smartphones? 3! The same amount of OS’s ruling the PC world; 3!

True you do not build an app as there are no users. Since there is no app there is no users. But when 3rd party makes app the WP community is strong so as it cause server overloads or hamper insta experience

Yeah, there is enough feedback from WP that they have to delete our posts, but there isn't enough to just make an app for us? Screw them

I really cannot grasp the idea of witholding so much from consumers. I mean, Windows Phone is obviously grabbing a lot of attention and people but why the heck these selfish companies are not willing to make an app for a specific OS? I am not using Instagram but I hate reading this news. 

I wouldn't be surprised if competition is sabotaging wp by blackmailing developers to not create wp version

I think certain people in the industry are paying off the right people, under the table, to stop development for WP. I find no other satisfying explaination.

Well that is also what i think , those ****************** are paying 3th party app makers ... i'm very angry i can't use Instagram anymore, i can only like and comment, for how long? 2 hours before we can read here on WPCentral that it is also blocked? Instagram and Facebook needs a big punch in the face ;-)
Best regards!

If this is true then those who are paying so much to stop the development of Windows Phone is obviously scared that another OS will take the reign few months or years from now. Windows Phone is getting better everyday and the mobile industry surely will not be able to take it for granted. 

As far as I can remember, Windows Phone 8 was just released less than a year ago, September of 2012 to be exact. If you are whining about the low market share then I would assume that you understand that this cannot be increased overnight. iOS and Android's userbase did not reached anywhere near their current userbase in less than year. Duh.

Is it? I did not 'Bing' that, sorry. But nevertheless, it will still count as less than year ago. For those who are bickering about Windows Phone marketshare, don't expect it to soar and obliterate iOS and Android's position. Obviously, Windows Phone is becoming a real threat.

marketshare point is a bit moot to me now, i mean these devs are delibrately preventing apps from coming to WP and the guys that actually did bring their app over usually had good things to say about their performance in the store (pointing towards those must have guys)

Lol its not what there share is at, its what the market share is doing. In this case its growing in almost every market. In a few like USA its slow but in others its skyrocketing. Growth means competition so if there theory is true, its best to attack a growing competitor before it becomes a literal threat.

Low market share? That would be more of a reason for Instagram to NOT spend resources removing pics uploaded by these apps.

Why spend resources battling something with low market share?

The story needs to be updated, Instagram has released a statement and the images are removed because they changed their APIs to combat spam and this unofficial and unsupported access is unfortunately a victim of this.

I think this is just their way how to cover this up and restrict unofficial app access. But I am actually in the minority here and support them in this. It's their service and they have every right to make the rules about who and how can access their services.

I agree with your point that it is their service to manage as they deem acceptable. Here are my challenges, the service is free. Why limit access? All that is being charged is a fee for his time to develop the app. Second, they don't want to expend their resources on developing an app for a small group of users. They don't have to, Daniel Gary did it for them. If they are concerned about his coding for security reasons, then give him the requirements to meet their standards. Seems to me that their is some form of collusion behind the scenes. I don't care about instagram one bit, but I bought the app to support the developer.

Microsoft actually cares about security and they prevent it so other apps cant spy on our data. But yet you believe they are "screwing" us.
 
Shut... shut.. shut your mouth.

That's different that is limiting developers from creating an app that can access information for the entire phone. Not too sure I would trust a third party with access to all my phone's data.

I don't like it but they could be expending more resources in deleting pics than making a new client. It would be totally awesome if Microsoft would buy it from Google and shutdown the company.

Microsoft brought a 1.6% stake in Facebook years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if they sold it after the IPO and took the money before the stock flopped.

" Okay, you’re not developing an app for Instagram, fine…but you’re not allowing people to use 3rd party apps, to use your services " you forgot to say while its free, its not like its causing any losses to instagram :S
we should strike against instagram, try to make something else populer :P

You said it❕.. This is ridiculous, and I've had enough.. Let's take to the streets, "Facebook/Twitter",, and start a riot❕... Who's with me❔if you are then send Instagram multiple messages, through multiple channels, throughout the day.. Lets hit them up,, "beg",, harder than we ever have before❗❗❗

I don't think it's selfish, because it does come down to supply and demand. I think they are being pressured by Apple and Google. I think they are influencing the decisions of these large app developers to stay away from Windows Phone, and it's sad because it really is a good phone. They just can't get notable apps. The only solution I see is to have an app developed for Windows phone, have Microsoft promote it and have it go mainstream. There is a calculated effort to suppress Windows Phone and it's a shame.

There already is such an app: Fhotoroom.  Microsoft should promote the heck out of that.  "Fhotoroom: A better photo sharing experience, exclusive only to Windows Phone"

Remember the antitrust against MS the same can be applied to Google and apple. No?..or what if MS made it so that all window machines could not load Google stuff? this is getting old between MS being so dam slow at everything they do we don't have many features that other OS's have because the worlds largest software maker can't get it dam right.... Maybe it is us who should say know what screw you too MS. getting tired of all the coming soon stuff they only reason WP is moving is because of the efforts of Nokia. and even Nokia is speaking out about the slowness.

Instagraph is immune from this, we chose not to illegally use private API just to avoid what is happening now here...

It's not illegal to use a private API, however the company can choose to limit access to it.

Nothing it truly private on the internet. When they say "private API" what they really mean is that they intercepted the shape of the service calls and wrote their application to masquerade as the web interface.

The fix for this will be to simply control the user agent so it is impossible to tell that it's not using the official web interface/api.

Wow, ok Instagraph is very much not a moneygrab. The guys were the first to upload to Instagram from Windows Phone and have built an architecture where they actually have to run hardware to ensure they can upload within Instagram's rules. That architecture costs money and they fund it through purchases of their app. It is not crappy and I suggest you do some serious research into what they have achieved before you level such ridiculous statements at them.

I'm quite disappointed to see how the Windows Phone community is pissing on the genuine efforts of third party developers to bring services to the platform. Shame on you.

I was able to post a little earlier to but then the picture was deleted. Is that the same for you or the picture are still there?

Yeah, right. Thanks for the ugly looking paid app with no other feature other than uploading.. yeah.. thanks.

and cropping is terrible.. yeah..

They are essentially declaring war on their users. Punishing them for wanting to be customers. And Facebook is OK with this?

I love the fact that Instagram is so pissed off they are willing to lose users over their hatred for Microsoft. It is really amusing to watch this go down.

Instagram employees sound like a bunch of babies. Grow up and accept the fact people use your useless service in the first place. In 4 years they will be crying when they are ditched for the next trendy wb service.

Sorry? What exactly did they do to you?

It's their service, their servers, their rules. Regardless whether you agree with their decisions, it's you that should respect their rules, not the other way around.

Did you ever say "f**k M$ 4 blocking Netscape in windows updates"??? 
It was their service, their servers, their rules.
What now?

Because you could grab the update yourself from Netscape. If IG blocks this permanently we have no other way to get around it. So apples and oranges.

Grab what update from Netscape? I'm talking about IE-only ActiveX that was REQUIRED to update your windows machine. It's the same with IG.
We do have a way around. Sb will emulate the IG apps so perfectly that they wont be able to trace them (the other solution with the remote android servers probably still works because it's 100% emulation)
 

Bad analogy. If you wanted to use Netscape you could keep on doing so regardless of how the OS handled updates. With this IG fiasco users are left in the dust.

Nah, it's a consumer's right to call out a company for shitty practices, in the same way it's their right to crap on WP users from on high...

i agree, double standard seems to be ok now a days, if it was MS doing this, people would be crying foul and pulling out their pitch forks

You seem to think that you people have a RIGHT to demand Instagram to be on WP.

No, you have a right to choose your OS. The apps that are available in the app store there? That's a question of availability, it's up to each developer to decide which platform they will support.

Or hey, let's go ahead and demand from all those iOS and Android developers that they port their apps to WP. How dare they not to develop for the platform of YOUR choice!

Consumers drive applications and development. Would Instagram exist without a fan base? Would any application exist? The purpose of an application is to benefit the consumer, which then benefits the developer(s). It doesn't make sense to purposely exclude potential consumers.

That is a fair point, however one should consider what is it they are trying to accomplish by actively using resources to block WP users instead of actually developing an app. This is only creating negative goodwill, so is it worth it?
Instance showed that there clearly is a market for Instagram on WP platform, to the point where people are willing to pay for the app. So isntagram can cover their development costs by selling an app, or I'm sure Nokia or MS would gladly foot the bill for the development.

It's all in their Terms of Service. They want to provide a consistent user experience and of course, protect their IP. It's no rocket science.

Regarding the costs... I'm afraid it's not that simple. It's not just a one time development expense - supporting another OS platform requires a continued investment in that platform (support, maintenance etc.).

I'm not talking about technicalities, i'm talking about logic, you're right it's not rocket science, but you don't seem to get the fact that this really doesn't accomplish anything for instagram aside from generating a bunch of negative goodwill. How exactly was this affecting the user experience? Is WP all of a sudden big enough of a market share to create a strain for their servers? Or are they that picky about the filters lol? What IP are we talking about? I'm a customer, I have been before switching to WP. Their only asset is their user base, without it, they would be nothing and by doing this they aren't attacking the 3rd party dev their are sending a message to their user base.
 
With regards to costs past development, sure Hipstamatic is doing as in paying them and once again MS or Nokia can do it as well.

Well... apparently they disabled access to their service he was using via a 3rd party app; so they did do something to him.
 
It is their service, their servers, and their rules so if they want to limit access they want but that doesn't mean we have to sit here quietly. They don't live on an island and the rules change once you hit a certain critical mass. They aren't trying to solve a problem, they are trying to forceably control it... which always fails.
 
I don't, nor will I ever use Instragram (not my thing), but they are not a spunky little startup anymore. They need to learn how to control their message and provide the best service to anyone who wants access. 
 
Evernote and Netflix are great examples of companies who gets this. Don't try to control who can access your service by selectively limiting which platforms gets your service. You never know where your next product champion will be who has influence across platforms. You don't have to give everyone the same level of experience but you should give people access where they want it.
 
This could turn out bad for them. Even with small marketshare their are some very vocal members of the community and word of this poor customer experience can spread very quickly.

Just because I have guests in my house, that doesn't give me the right to treat them however I want. This is a question of business ethics, and yes, they are being "shady scumbags".

They have a right to protect their intellectual property. However, it would be great for them to address the situation with a little message explaing it all. Are all WP users horrible photographers? Do we lack the "hipster" status to post? Or are we so far ahead of the game that Instagram needs time to catch up?
 

@Rockartisten I appreciate your passion, but the reality is reality. They have a right to protect their intellectual property. We were all piggy backing onto a service through a back-door. Is instagram really that great anyway?
As far as Ethics go, Zuckerberg is a complete waste of space. He created a website to pickup a girl and because he had no friends. He stole intellectual property from the Winklevoss'. Since his company has gone public Facebook has turned into a complete disaster of ads, ad driven "news posts' ads in my threads...it's horrible anymore. He has no ethics, the only thing he has is a lot of money. That doesn't make him any less of a super-douche.
 
Instagram's developer worked at MS as an intern, he didn't like the way he was treated. So he is snubbing MS. He is turning away money. That has nothing to do with ethics that is pure stupididy.
 

i don't quiet understand your ethic point on the ad part for Zuckerberg. i mean to me, as far as it goes, its just bad user experience, but then again a service needs to make money some how (at least they've made the fb app better now)

isn't bad ethic something like bullying/stealing/etc?

They couldn't handle anymore 38mp photos being cropped to 500px! They are going to introduce a new Instagram HD service, with 1000px uploads!
 
/s

It is their service and servers, and they do make the rules. But they are making the wrong rules here.

If they do not want users to use a third party service, then they should supply some guidance or a first party alternative. Truth be told, Instragram has one of the simplest products imaginable. Their only difficult task is done on the server side (handling a lot of data, and availability). On the client side, it would take them weeks--at best--to provide a working solution for Windows Phone. It's no mystery how the Instance developer was able to write his own implementation so quickly because it's that simple (not to detract from his abilities).

That is, unless they have some really bad developers.

It sounds to me like someone important in the Instagram unit of Facebook hates Microsoft. There is simply no other explanation that such a simple, widely used service lacks a first party app as they begin blocking third party alternatives that are unlikely to cause issues for Instragram. Especially considering that the Lumia 1020 and 920 are two of the best camera phones on the market.

There is a cost associated with maintaining an app for any ecosystem, but Microsoft and Nokia have proven willing to cover the cost of development. And, I cannot stress this enough: Instagram simply cannot get much simpler, and with that simplicity brings likely advantages of code sharing between at least iOS and WP (minus the UI). It's great that they turned such a simple idea into such a large business, but it speaks poorly of their attitude and abilities that they would prefer to block third parties rather than provide a solution.

Way to stand up for the platform.. Maybe we shouldn't refer to them as scumbags, but there is something fishy going on... Wouldn't you like to see a app like Instagram come to WP❔... You should❗

I'm out. Deleted my account. I figure if they're gonna delete my photos eventually I'll beat them to the punch and do it for them.

You know what, I use Fhotoroom, and not instagram, and while the Fhotoroom interface can be a little clunky at times it does a really good job.  Whats more, is that I have noticed lately that it is getting more popular, because early on it was about the photography, and now there is a major increase of pictures of food and girls posing in front of dirty marked mirrors - both a clear sign of windows phone's increasing market share across the globe.
You'd think a business would want more customers.
Frak you Instagram!

I guess that could explain it. But what baffles me about all of this is that Facebook bought Instagram and Facebook and MS actually have a pretty good relationship. In fact I think MS is even a shareholder. So I'm confused how Facebook hasn't forced Instagram to make an app for WP yet. But then again I seem to be the only person in this world that doesn't give a crap about that service.

Ownership certainly means they can tell the company what to do.  The problem comes down to the top leadership.  Overall I like Balmer, but in the case of Skype, I think he is giving way too much slack on the leash.  I hate saying this, but this is one of the areas I give Apple credit on.  At least under Steve Jobs, Apple had no problems with divisions undermining each other or ignoring company goals.  You can call it authoritarin or whatever, but it was effective.

Until they hit a wall like they have, and the creativity has been beaten out of them. The problem with Apple is not that Steve is gone, it's that his method could never stand the tests of time.

"But then again I seem to be the only person in this world that doesn't give a crap about that service."
No, you are not alone. I do believe there to be a coordinated effort by competitors to slow down the growth of WP however.
AAPL, GOOG, and FB all have services, etc that have been changed to cutoff WP users.

WTH! Is this some kind of a joke Instagram? I am fuming right now! If you do not want third party apps then create an official app for Windows Phone instead. Goodness!

Because the instagram devs have an apple up their asses and an android shoved down their throats.

MS can't ship Explorer as main web browser without being dragged to court but obvious lobbying like this is ok?
This stinks so rotten.

And there goes Instagram forbidding users to use a public service, even though they are lazy and won't build an app for us WP users...I've stopped using it for some time now anyway.Oggl is much better!

As far as I know no taxpayer money is going towards funding instagram. It's not a public service. It's a social network owned by a private company.

Facebook is a publicly traded company. Not "public" as in the park that is down the street, but "public" in the sense that anyone can own stock in the company.

Ok then go buy the majority of the stock and tell the devs to work on a WP app. Money makes the world go round!

It is owned by Facebook, which is a publicly traded company, not a private one. That aside, I don't get the appeal of Instagram at all. Aren't there like a dozen other apps you can use to sully your pictures instead?

Its the community people want to connect to, ie their friends. Its not about the app itself or the filters.

As has been said, Instagram isn't really about the filters, it's about the social network.   It's a network only for photo sharing, without all the other stuff (inane comments, inspirational quotes, ads, spam/other junk) that you get from a Facebook feed.

There seriously must be one crazy mad iSheep lover MS hater ruling Instagram for this kind of thing to happen. Oh so low its actually a little bit sad :(

No. Oggl works fine for Uploading to Instagram... I have had my last two images up for about half an hour now... Instance uploads were being removed after about 15 Seconds...

So if Oggl have an agreement in place to post to Instragram why can't other developers get that?
Has Daniel Gary ever said if he's tried to get official permission to use their API instead of going through the back door? Or anyone else who has or is trying to build a third party client? I don't see why they don't want to open up their API, get more people using their service (and that would include clients on Android and iOS - where I assume there's only the official client atm?)

I contact to Oggl team, Allen. And they reply me that they are fixing. Now I can upload my photos to Oggl.

Thanks Allen and teams!

Just confirming that when I upload any  pics to Oggl a message pops out saying it failed to share my photo with a bunch of codes and "The remote server returned an error: Not Found"

It is what it is. Enough people switched from MySpace to Facebook, so it could happen again.

It'd be nice to see them switch to Oggl.

it just makes me so sad that so much energy and rage is spent over fads.  ppl losing their minds over instagram of all things. 

There should be a law against deliberately withholding apps from customers willing to pay for your app

No, that's like wanting to sue a supermarket because they won't sell you your favorite yogurt because you're a Windows Phone user.

pretty techno-ist of instagram to do something like this. i hope none of their employees get discriminated for whatever.

I don't have a single pic deleted from instagram so I don't understand that part... But well I thought is better to instagram to have more users...

Maybe they're saying any new pics uploaded are getting scrubbed. I just uploaded a pic through Instagraph (no Instance on WP7) so we'll see how long it stays up.

If Instagraph was as nice of an app experience as Instance, we would use it, but I can't take a step backward in user experience to get uploads. Oggl will get the uploads done for now, I guess...

Here's a suggestion, what if instagraph became a full-blown IG client, you could use IG's official API and upload via your servers. It would be much more reliable than instance, and have all the same features. However, it's going to need to stand out from instance and 6stagram to get people to switch. Take this opportunity to update your app before Daniel gets it up and running. You may want to take some concepts into consideration. If you'd like, I could work with you for the design. :-)

Best Regards,

ticomfreak

P.S. Thank you for supporting the Windows Phone platform.

Sure seems like it would take a lot less effort to make a WP app than to constantly scrounge their service to delete images from third party apps.

This is probably delaying Rudy Hyun's app. F u instagram you have a large number of users on WP, make a freakin app already.

How douchebaggy of them. I have used Instance on my Lumia 920 at least three times. I have Instagram installed on my iPod touch but have yet to use it. But reading stuff like this makes me want to just uninstall it and say to hell with Instagram!

Guess they only want you using Oggl...
 
It's been said but it really needs to be said again, why spend time & resources fighting this & indy devs when you can just co-op Instance or release your own. Seriously, how long would it take?
 
You guys say boycott, but I say the opposite. I say upload every picture you've got through a 3rd party to Instagram. If they really want to take time & spend money fighting this, then make them fight with everything they got.

Hahaha... Lets create an app that does automatic uploads and then everyone can just spam the sh*t out of their servers.

I don't know how well this will work seeing as it is just a program that does this, and we would most likely be uploading all at random times and not fast enough, but if we do a lot at once it could overflow which would be awesome.

See my suggestion above, an app with automatic uploads (spam app) for the whole community. We could call it "#instawithhate"; "Instance Turbo"; "ADHDgram"; "Itsdaspam" or something:)

Btw itsthagram uses a official android app to upload the pictures so it's no way they can block them

And this is why its not especially smart to base your business on the availability of and using reverse engineered private APIs. You not only lose your business in a single day but disappoint all your customers too. I was wondering how long it would last.
 
 

Except no one is disappointed in the work of Daniel Gary. If anything, he's the metaphorical Robin Hood of Instagram for Windows Phone users. The disappointment is all on Instagram for wasting time and resources seeking out uploads from WP users and deleting them rather than taking that time to develop an official client.

Meh... I'm pretty disappointed (before this) that you can't upload/view videos, and that if it is ever added, it will cost more... after I already paid for the app to start.

That's f*****g dumb, hey asswholes at ig, realize people don't always keep a windows phone or Android or iPhone, and pissing off windowsphone users now could make u lose future users. Why the hell do these big services not make official apps then start stacking the third party apps. If ur argument is that WP doesn't have enough volume then that small volume uploading to ur service shouldn't be a problem, but if it is a big enough problem for you to waste resources to delete photos then just make the app, you greedy corporate ............

All my photos uploaded today through Instance are gone. The developer is adopting the right, mature stance though to the issue that befalls him. 
Sadly it's Instagram that needs to get their act together. It's almost as if they don't want people using their service.

But deleting someone's content? Shabby. Break the api, deny service, but many people have come to WP from other platforms and may have had accounts long before this.

I wouldn't be surprised if that Hipstamatic crap App was behind this. They do have a deal with Instagram to allow photos to be posted through their shitty App...by doing this they perhaps hope people will adopt their shitty App instead. Well, as far as I go, they're out of luck. Oggl sucks and I'm not using it nor raising my 1 star rating.

That said...Microsoft doesn't solve this problem because they don't care. Which goes in line with the criticism we were talking yesterday from Nokias VP.
Microsoft has FB shares.
Microsoft has enough power and money to simply buy Instagram from Facebook and put an end to this.
Microsoft is doing absolutely nothing.

Demanding why? Because I think Oggl sucks?
Or because I think Microsoft attitude towards WP is nothing more than lazy and this entire InstaDrama is a result of that laziness? You do realize Microsoft has the technical and economical means to solve this, right? So if they don't, it's because they don't care.

So let me get this straight, you think Microsoft should spend millions of dollars because you want to share your food pics? No wait, you think Microsoft should buy out every company that currently doesn't publish its apps on Windows Phone? You are delusional.

No you idiot. I think Microsoft has a mobile platform that needs to grow and for it to grow they need to offer customers what they want. And like it or not, customers WANT official Instagram (and YouTube but that's another story) apps.
Microsoft HAS to spend money to bring those Apps. Even if they have to shower the devs with money. Everything and everyone has a price. Either that or watch their platform die because customers will not keep with it.
If Instagram is acting the way they are, Microsoft has the ultimate means to solve the problem. They can just buy it. Actually, Microsoft willing it, they could even buy Facebook. And they wouldn't be wasting money because they are lucrative platforms. There's no logical reason to buy FB...but they can buy Instagram.
It's called hostile-approach. It's what Google does. And look where Android is.

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