We’re not sure if this is just a temporary error or something more nefarious but Google appears to have changed something whereby Windows Phone users are now blocked when trying to access maps.google.com.
Granted, it’s not clear why you would want to use Google’s less-than-awesome mapping service through a browser, but humor us for a second. The move appears to be a continued approach to lockout all Google services from those who adopted Windows Phones. Or it’s just poor service.
We were able to verify on our Windows Phones that when going to maps.google.com we are redirected to www.google.com/m for mobile, regardless of IE10’s settings i.e. Desktop mode. Reports suggest that maps.google.co.uk still works for some folks but for us that too redirects, making this an in-motion change that is evidently occurring worldwide.
We were also able to confirm that on the iPhone users are prompted to download the Google Maps app (must be nice) but they can bypass that redirect and still successfully access maps.google.com if the user so chooses. Android users, trying various browsers, also have no problems making this a unique issue with Windows Phones only.
From a comment on this article by gmlongo:
"It is definitely on purpose. If you change the user agent in Firefox (using User Agent Switcher) to "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows Phone 8.0; Trident/6.0; ARM; Touch; IEMobile/10.0", you get redirected to the Google home page. But if you set the user agent to "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows Phne 8.0; Trident/6.0; ARM; Touch; IEMobile/10.0" (notice I intentionally misspelled Windows Phone), the maps.google.com page comes up just fine. In other words, the only way I was able to get it to redirect is to have Windows Phone in the user agent string. So something on Google's side is keying off the user agent for windows phone"
Google's continued assault on Windows Phone users
Google has famously proclaimed that they will not make apps for Windows Phone users to access their services and now they are evidently looking to deny any usage whatsoever. First it was their dropping of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) occurring later this month, which will prevent users from creating new accounts on their phones and syncing Gmail contacts and calendar, and then there was the YouTube incident.
That second complaint goes back to 2011 when Microsoft alleged that Google was not allowing access to YouTube metadata to the company, preventing Microsoft from releasing a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. Microsoft brought up the grievance again this week because it still has not been resolved, with Microsoft going so far as to allege Google is decisively blocking a “first rate” YouTube experience on Windows Phone.
Malevolent or just idiocy?
So the big question here is this part of the continued Google attack on Windows Phone users or just shoddy programming resulting in a bad redirect? We’re not too sure at this point and we’ll have to wait a few days to see if anything changes. It does certainly seem suspect though with the current back and forth between the two internet juggernauts, it only affecting Windows Phone browsers and with Google recently being “cleared” by the FTC of any egregious anti-competitive behavior.
We suppose if you were so inclined to use Google Maps you could just go ahead and use the excellent app gMaps Pro but outside of some really unique situations, we can’t see why you would prefer it over Bing or Nokia Maps.
In conclusion, we have to ask the question: is it time to actively boycott Google? We’re assuming a lot of you have made the move off of their ad-laden services but is it time to step it up a notch and go offensive with individual anti-Google campaigns? Perhaps.
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