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Microsoft responds in detail to Google’s blocking of YouTube; cites HTML5 and unfair treatment

Last night, Windows Phone Central broke the news about the new Microsoft branded YouTube app essentially breaking. We investigated the problem and concluded that it was due to a revoked developer key. Such a scenario could only happen if Microsoft forgot to update it or if Google yanked it.

That latter situation implies that Google did not authorize the app and was taking direct action of their own by disabling the video player on all Windows Phones. Indeed, just a few hours ago this was confirmed when Microsoft said as much in a note to the press.

Now, David Howard, Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft, has taken to TechNet, Microsoft’s blog on legal and public policy. Needless to say, the nearly 1000 word statement is chock full of information and more details on the matter, making an excellent read.

HTML5, branding and unfair requests

Presenting Microsoft’s side, which of course is expected to be biased towards themselves, Howard finally gives the details behind the current situation with Google.

It’s noted that for a few years now, Microsoft has been striving for a comparable YouTube experience that is found on the iPhone and Android—something for which we see as reasonable. Redmond reiterated that claim earlier this year soon after Windows Phone 8 launched. Google, however, was reportedly not willing to share certain data with Microsoft on to make that happen. As a result, up until April 2013, Microsoft had a much inferior YouTube experience.

This past spring, Microsoft released their version of a YouTube app and it was very well received by the community. However, Google took issue with it and asked that it be removed. Microsoft obliged with the condition that they can work with Google to release an app of comparative performance with their competitors (iOS and Android).

Microsoft agreed to Google’s terms and in version 3.2 of the YouTube app, released earlier this week, they had enabled Google’s advertisements, disabled video downloads and eliminated the ability for users to view reserved videos.

But there was evidently one more thing Google wanted: the app to be coded in HTML5.

"It seems to us that Google’s reasons for blocking our app are manufactured so that we can’t give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting. The roadblocks Google has set up are impossible to overcome, and they know it." - David HowardCorporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

Microsoft notes that this was an unusual request since iOS and Android are currently not encoded in HTML5 and moreover, after investigating whether it could be done both companies agreed that making an HTML5 app would be technically difficult and time consuming (and perhaps that was Google’s intent).

This was the breaking point as Microsoft decided to release the non-HTML5 version of the app with the intention of returning to the matter later with Google.

Other lingering issues

Other problems that Google cites are ads “based on conditions imposed by content creators” aren’t always displayed. Microsoft claims that they need more data for this, something for which Google reportedly won’t share.

Finally, Google evidently now has a problem with the branding i.e. it seems like an official Google app when it’s made by Microsoft. Another reason is that according to Google, this new app provides a “degraded experience”, something for which most users have not objected too, making it vacuous.

Where to next?

It is clear Microsoft is ratcheting up the PR war by releasing this statement. From their perspective, Google has set prejudicial requirements for Windows Phone that iOS and Android are not obliged to meet. To that end, especially the request for the app to be in HTML5, it does seem that Google here is behaving rather dishonestly.

However, we should note that Google has yet to go into as much detail and surely they have their side as well. Regardless, this dispute has clearly crossed a line and Windows Phone users are suffering at their expense.

Source: TechNet (opens in new tab)

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • This is absurd. 
  • Absolutely. Makes no sense.
  • Its disgusting that any company behave this way. Let alone google, the supposed bannermen for unity and constructive behavior. Spoil little petulant children. Fuck google.
  • You didn't have your upercase locked... -_- You should have said
  • In other news Tube Pro continues to be immune to these issues, with no ads, HD streaming, and the ability to download. I never even bothered installing the MS app.
  • The average joe who is new to the platform is going to be looking for a Youtube app.
    Not MetroTube,Tube Pro or whatever. Google are just be an ass about this.
  • My only issue with Tube Pro is the control bar and buttons take up half the screen. Is there a way to turn it off? I was using Mytube previously, but that no longer works.
  • I cant belive that, even after having more than 70% Mobile OS market, google are so insecure and afraid of competition that they are behaving like bigtime loosers...Perhaps they are aware that their 'lagdroid' dont have chances to sustain the healthy competition....
  • +1
  • Like a sir!  ^
  • Good. Now. I don't have to say it out loud.
  • Well, that's Google, Anti-Competitive bastards.
    At least there is MyTube and MetroTube
  • dont forget about the apps youtube hd... even its better than tube pro.. try it..
  • It makes sense dude,
    Both company hate each other. Microsoft always bully Google services(e.g.- Privacy)
    I don't know why Microsoft come-up with those apps which always violates Google terms and condition and give them chance to block. and where as Google just need a reason to do this.
    Google is not going to make apps unless WP get resonable market shares.
    So, I see this is fault from both Microsoft and Google for this mess.
    and we as WP users have to suffer.
  • Don't forget that Google has done everything they could think of to put Microsoft out of business.  Google was a search engine that everyone loved until they created Google Docs, now Google Drive and of course Google Chrome.  Now Google is being overly difficult.  I don't fault Microsoft much on this, they are just trying to stay alive.
  • Google Docs is a joke compared to Office. There is no evidence that Google's promise of stealing 90% of Office customers has even got started. Microsoft has something like 13 billion dollar businesses. Google can only threaten Microsoft on the mobile front.
  • And also don't forget that Microsoft also done everything they could to put Google out of business.
    Still Google search engine is loved by everyone holding approx 90% market share. Google beat Microsoft almost in every service which provided by both companies.....Smartphone OS, Search Engine, browser etc..... I am still saying that its both companies fault. Both companies hate each other so much that they don't want to see there existence. Microsoft always build app which violates Google terms and conditions and Google always going to ban for this.
    And we as WP users have to suffer for this
  • Chrome only beats IE because no one uses IE due to reputation. The only issues I have with IE 10 are with management web pages for network equipment and some really old vBB forums I view, and then I use nets.. i mean firefox :P I just have chrome around for the odd time neither IE or firefox works. They were good till about a year ago and then it just became a crawl to open or do anything and it was always trying to do crap in the background..
    I've switched Bing, good for 90% of my searches, the more in the weeds technical searches I still use google. 
    They aren't better or worse, but for my needs I don't have a pressing NEED for google services. I still use the email, but I never was a big personal email user, so I can take or leave what ever free email I can get.
  • Well, IE looses to Google Chrome because of support. Take an example of Window XP, which support IE 8 but not 9 &10, where as Google Chrome is available with its latest version which is even better and secure than IE10. So, why use IE when you get a better browser which beat IE in all aspects.
    Google Search engine is far better than Bing, I used Bing and leave it. Because search results aren't good as Google search engine neither the presentation of data.
    Lets take other services like 
    YouTube vs. Bing Video 
    Gmap vs. Bing Map
    Android vs. Window Phone
    All above services Google beat Microsoft by very large margin.
    Because Microsoft have a habit of not listening to customers and they provide what they want not  what the user want and they are very slow on that too.
  • I think you're on the wrong forum to say Android is better than Windows Phone.
    And MS "not listening to customers"? Are you kidding? I have never seen a company be as responsive to customers as MS has been recently with the XBox One, basically, reversing position on many of their initial plans due to customer feedback.
    In contrast, Google makes money from advertisers, not from paying users, which means they don't give a crap about us as end-users, as long as the experience isn't so bad that we stop using them completely. Google is a vile company.
    Unfortunately, YouTube, Google Earth, and a few other apps have no equal (at least that I know about), so we go to Google for those. I hope this babyish behavior of rejecting the app and refusing to offer their own causes MS to offer than own alternative to YouTube or some other company to step into the gap.
  • I am not here to talk about Android.
    All I am saying about market shares .
    Sorry, to say but Microsoft don't listen to customer......I said this specially for WP.
    GDR2 and 3 are full of craps features. We as WP users need basic features which are missing on WP.(Auto-rotate screen on/off option, better brightness control(since battery back-up isn't good), centralised notication etc)
    Where as what did microsoft provide -data sense..totally crap.
    I don' t know how it is more useful that those basic features.
    They might provide some feature in WP blue but ......wait is too long. Microsft intentionally launch half baked OS  and they have habbit of provideing those features very slow or might not provide at all.
  • I would much rather Microsoft take their time and release a feature that is not only useful, but fits with the UI and compliments the OS. Live Tiles serve as a relatively decent substitute for Notifications (obviously not a replacement) there are some really good ideas being thrown around on the WP User Voice.
    I would prefer Microsoft work on certain things, but they know best where they are heading and how they can get there. It would be a fools arrand to attempt to appease everyone and as the XBox One fiasco has shown, listening to customers isn't always the proper course of action.
  • Joe Belfiore at MS has specifically spoken to many of those features and the timing. He has said that they know these are needed and they're working on them. But, he points out, the single biggest complaint from Windows Phone users is lack of apps. The way to get apps is to scale the # of users. That means adding features first that support the hardware needed for broad reach. The 1040 the 520, the upcoming 1080p 5" systems, these all required additional OS support for Nokia and other manufacturers to add the hardware. The 520 is finally causing Windows Phone to reach the masses, which will solve the single biggest deficiency: apps.
    This has all been well-covered on this site.
    Therefore, I don't believe it's reasonable to conclude that MS is not working as hard or fast as it can, albeit slower than many of us would like, to add key features to is fledgling OS that address the needs of its customers, even its current customers (more scale means more apps).
  • Hmmmm ...Let's see, Android running on a quad core processors and still lags. Windows Phone running on a single or dual processor and runs perfectly. Half bake my a$$. Sometimes you have to look beyond the features, and look into what it can do for you. If you are looking for features that a device don't have, then that just mean that the device isn't for you. Plain and simple.
  • So way the hell are you using WP?! Besides that, Chrome IS NOT better than IE 10 or the new IE 11 in any way, shape or form. I`ve ditched Gmail, Chrome (Wich now SUCKS) and android is next, since im geting the Lumia 925. Remember when google catch phrase was "Dont be evil"??? Those days are long gone and actually google is acting way worst than apple.
  • WP can't get good market share if Youtube is deprived from the platform. Google knows this.
  • @ Sepatown Other than intentionaly trying to stifle windows phone growth.. it does not as they are foregoing revenue and increased user base...
  • and childish.
  • Even more than the Scroogle ads? I think not. 
  • The Scroogled ads were terrible.
  • They were indeed. You don't go out and ask someone for something you badly want, whilst simultaneously spreading misinformation or FUD about them.
  • Google potentially has legal obligations here. These are anti-competitive maneuvers. Is it worth it to risk punishment over this when there a dozens of YT apps which are more popular than Microsoft's?
  • Uhh no it's not 'anti-competitive'. YouTube isn't an essential tool for doing anything. It's just a video service, which happens to be very popular.
  • It has nothing to do with being an essential tool. If you stop a competitor in one market from accessing your software/platform when you\ve allowed numerous others access for the sole reason that they're a competitor (which is becoming very obvious here) it's illegal and is a breach of antitrust. 
  • Then why doesn't Microsoft make software for platforms like Linux? They make a SkyDrive sync tool for Windows and Mac, but not Linux. Is that anticompetitive?
    I'm honestly asking because I don't know for sure.
  • It's not illegal for Google not to release the app for Windows Phone. It is illegal to block it if Microsoft used publicly available APIs. 
  • There's a terms of service attached to the APIs though, right? And Google says MS violated those?
  • True and according to Microsoft, they violated them because Google never gave them enough information to enforce them. .Google hasn't said anything more on this issue, so we don't really know their side of the story,
  • I agree.
  • And you probably won't because Google doesn't engage in the sort of PR wars that MS and Apple seem so fond of starting. MS's app got shut down because they didn't conform to the TOS. End of story.
  • Well, at least someone has all the facts. I was going to wait for both parties to provide their arguments, but I think reading your comment renders that moot. Thanks. ;)
  • The TOS that Android, iPhone and BlackBerry don't have to follow? Give me a break.
    Google is making BS excuses to cover up the truth, otherwise they would be blocking those other OS' because they don't use HTML5 either.
  • The SkyDrive API is public and can be used by anyone to make a linux version with no restrictions. So it is not the same. MS is also one of the largest contributors to the linux kernel and hold a lot of pattents which they stated they do not want to use. So it's not the same. Linux problem is fragmentation so doing that for linux by MS would mean doing it with source code available which is understandable an issue
  • It's true that microsoft didn't make any software for linux (let's says, office). But they didn't ban any document compatibility where user of libre office can freely save their work as docx, xlsx, pptx compatible document. Another example was, windows shared folder which can be accessed using samba on linux. They didn't block that too.
  • Linux is free, a nonprofit based on open sourceness. If it was intending to compete with MS, that is anticompetive. But it isn't.
  • Which do you think is more threatening to a business -- a competitor who charges for the work or someone else who gives it away for free? No judgement on the merits of open-source, just that MS has potentially more to fear from free software than a competitor like, say, Apple. If I opened a burger joint, and a competitor opened one across the street, I'd be concerned and fight for market share, but if third company started giving away free food, even if it sucked, that's harder to beat.
  • Linux doesn't matter on the desktop. Never did, never will. Yes, I said that for all to read.
  • +1
  • Windows doesn't matter on the smartphone.
    Never did, never will.
    Yes, I said that for all to read.
  • It's beginning to pick up, especially outside the U.S. and China, so it's beginning to matter.
    Your "never did, never will" is just so a-hole!
    Yes, I said that for all to read.
  • His "never did, never will" is as a-hole as mine....
    After all, I just took his troll comment and turned against him, 'cause someone who uses Windows Phone really doesn't have much moral to talk about Linux desktop market share....
  • You must balls of steel.
  • Linux isn't really a paid product in the consumer world. It's free. And, Linux users can still use SkyDrive via the Web. And the API's are available, so one can make an app if they want to. But I doubt Linux users want to use a Microsoft service.
  • Microsoft owns Skype... Which has a public API... Apps like trillian connect to Skype and it works fine. Microsoft makes xbox smartglass for android, ios,windows... Etc... If the iOS app didn't exist... Then YouTube could be android only
  • anti-competitive?? how?
    All users can access it through browsers, and it's not an 'essential' part of any OS/mobile OS. 
    over that there are dozens of unofficial youtube client already in WP market. google didn't stop them even though most of them are violating google's TOS. 
  • So by that definition Chrome can be blocked on all Windows Desktops.
    It's not an essential part of the OS and there is Explorer and Firefox to replace it. But if that were to happen, what do you think Google would say?
  • If Microsoft blocked Chrome on Windows it isn't Google's reaction that Microsoft would have to worry about.
  • That's not the point.  The point is that it's clearly not fair to block Microsoft from releasing their youtube app for not meeting requirements that don't apply to ios or android.  Just as it would not be fair for MS to block Google Chrome.
    Unfortunately, Google can easily afford whatever they would be ordered to pay if a judge found them guilty, and they know it.  In the meantime they are hurting the winphone platform which is much more valuable to them in the long run.
  • That's a valid point. There are non HTML5 third party apps out there. Those aren't being blocked. So how is it anti consumer? Google is blocking an official app made for them and for their customers. There are people who don't want to use an unofficial app, because of problems like with Instagram and this case where it is being blocked. Microsoft is trying to help Google's customers, but they aren't allowing it. Google doesn't care about me - or other Google fans - who used their products most of our lives and choose, for one reason or another, a different mobile platform. I was right, a long time ago, when I said to a friend Google is becoming the next Microsoft. I just didn't realize it would be negative. And now Microsoft is making their apps available for other platforms. You can use Skype on all major platforms. Sometimes the app is better on competing platforms. What does Google do? They say we don't care about our customer base on Windows Phone. That is anti consumer.
  • 1). How was it misinformation?
    2). FUD... Really?? Like Samsung paying people to scour other non-samsung device forums and troll people?
  • Yes, you don't punch someone in the sack and then ask them for favours.
  • Sure you do if you're a narcissistic sociopath.
  • If it weren't for Windows PC's where the hell would google be today?
    And before you take that particular stance look up google's patent violations and why Microsoft and Apple (mainly Steve Jobs) were gunning for them so hard.
  • Moving goal posts are we? 
  • An apt description to what Google is doing!
  • The scroogled ads were super informative!
  • Those ad's weren't giving a middle finger to Microsoft's customers. Google doesn't care about YouTube fans If they choose another platform.
  • Unless that platform is IOS.
  • Scgroogle ads run on the internet only tech geeks see them and care about them. THey are irrelevent. Youtube is an essential app for any platform. I don't think you can compare the two. MS and Apple have made ads attacking each other too and you don't see MS pulling MS office and Apple still decided to use Bing in ios. Google is just acting incredibly immature and I think its about time MS filed some complaints with the DOJ regarding Googles anticompetative behavior. Maybe that's what MS is doing. They are just gathering evidence to present for an antitrust case.
  • I think on some level MS is happy to see Google behave the way it does because it gives them more ammunition in their future court battle which there is sure to be.  However, they would probably still prefer Google to play nice.
  • I don't even know what to say. It just doesn't add up... Can't wait to see how Google constructs its own press release on the matter - if they even decide to come out with one, that is.
  • They won't make any such statement. In those situations where they act like scum they never do.
  •   I usually don't have a problem with any vendor and actaully use Gmail and Google Voice as my primary personal accounts. I am even onboard with Google openly saying that they will not develop any of their apps for Windows Phone - it is their decision. But Google throwing a fit about Microsoft developing this app and revoking it just plain turning me off. And I dont even use YouTube on my phone more than once a month.   This makes me think twice about what rules Google want to play with and seriously make me reconsider my decision of using Google Voice and GMail. Who knows they may yank out support for GMail and block MetroTalk some day. Switching from GMail is easy - Google Voice not so much. How much I wish that Skype adds support non VOIP calling like Google Voice does.   Feeling right now - Scroogled! 
  • #Scroogled
  • +1020
  • what is absurd is sites that bitch about goofle and then continue to post their videos there.
  • That's what I was thinking, Windows Phone Central should upload videos to dailymotion instead.
  • the problem really is that WPC is part of Mobile Nations and Mobile Nation's sites all use the same "engine" to run their site, so I don't think this is really out of choice
  • Still posting videos to Youtube?
    I'm not
    Google will pay a HUGE penalty because of breaking the antitrust laws
    I think US of A should pay special notice on the privacy issues, too.
    Privacy should be only broken by CIA, not a private co.
    That should be constitutional
  • Google gets tax breaks in exchange for giving Eric Holder whatever he wants.
  • Google is strongly anti-privacy, which is why I avoid Google whenever I can, and CHOOSE to bring my business elsewhere. But users agree to their terms of service when they are foolish enough to use gmail. Google and its users are absolutely within their legal rights to agree to free email service in exchange for data monitoring for targeted ads. That's absolutely not un-Constitutional. The Constitution sets limits on what the GOVERNMENT can do, not what private parties can contract to do. The Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits unreasonable search and seizure and monitoring (aside from what I do in public) without a warrant. That has nothing do with Google's terms.
    They may be violating anti-trust laws by blocking MS like this (not clear on the facts with this yet), but that's a whole different issue.
  • +1 I also hope WPCentral will find a different video service soon to make a statement.
  • I suggest to pull out all MS app in the play store im fine with the browser ex .... Skype,MS office,skydrive , etc.
  • I m proud be 100% Google Free from 04/2013.
  • Same here.  Gave up on them months ago.
  • I totally agree! 
    Lets see if we can get their attention with this:
  • I don't see how this doesn't trigger an anti-trust investigation. The principle of antitrust is to ban abusive behavior by a firm dominating a market, or anti-competitive practices that tend to lead to such a dominant position by means like predatory pricing, tying, price gouging, and refusal to deal. Microsoft, for many years, has been handcuffed on many fronts for this. For example, Microsoft is forced to open up Office API and its proprietary document format to allow third party developing office compatible products, including Google Doc. This is to prevent Microsoft from further dominating the OS market should it choose to leverage one of its monopoly product (office) and intentionally create a sub-bar experience on other platform (by not developing any office product for other OS and not publishing necessary API’s to allow others create substitute products).
    What Google did is a perfect analogy of what Microsoft could’ve done but not allowed to do due to antitrust regulation. Google, in order to sabotage the wp platform, it leverages one of its monopoly product (youtube web service), and intentionally create a sub-par youtube experience on wp platform (by not developing a youtube app for wp, AND not publishing necessary API’s to allow Microsoft create a substitute app). It doesn’t matter what excuse google uses, the intention is loud and clear: Google would do whatever it takes, whether it’s unethical or even illegal, to stop wp, or any Microsoft platform, from having a youtube experience on-par with any other platform can offer. It’s clear that Google doesn’t care the consumer experience of the wp users, and they don’t even care their youtube content creator’s value.
    Or, Microsoft can take a simpler approach. What if MS offers an OS level ad blocker that blocks all Google ads, or all online ads? Would that pretty much kill Google all together? OK, Microsoft may also lose their own ads business, but if they go into a full-fledged war, which seems to be what Google wants, it’s not a bad deal for Microsoft. I know what you’re thinking. No, it doesn’t necessarily trigger antitrust law suit, as 1) Microsoft doesn’t really block Google service. Users can still use google search, youtube, gmail, most likely with a better experience. And 2) Microsoft can make it user configurable. But I’m not sure, other than the diehard google fan boys, how many users would be willing to unblock the ads.
  • Plus it has a really nice icon.
  • Just what I though
  • Google sucks
  • Pure evil...
  • BIG Brother needs to GTF