YouTube for Windows Phone is apparently getting updated soon (👀?!)

YouTube on Nokia Lumia 920
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows Phone is long dead, after Microsoft prematurely killed the platform despite spending billions on acquiring Nokia's phone division. 
  • Despite this, a community congregating around reddit.com/r/windowsphone continues to keep the dream alive. 
  • Recently, a developer dropped a reddit thread, claiming plans to offer an updated version of YouTube for Windows Phone. 

What year is it? 

I couldn't pass up an opportunity to write about our beloved Windows Phone, even if it is a tiny sliver of news that the vast majority of you likely won't be able to take advantage of. But it's fun, nonetheless. 

Windows Phone is long dead, killed prematurely by Microsoft, despite having sunk billions into acquiring Nokia's phone division just a few months beforehand. Windows Phone struggled to maintain any sort of pace with Android and iOS, but remained a much-needed third-pillar which offered a uniquely charming interface, as well as features other platforms have only just recently started to catch up with. 

Notoriously, the app gap is what killed Windows Phone, perhaps above all else. Google aggressively limited its services on Windows Phone devices, from Google Chrome to YouTube itself. Third-party developers built great hacked versions of YouTube, including MetroTube and MyTube! to compensate, often beating Google on features like offline playback. Microsoft itself also developed a YouTube app, but Google revoked Microsoft's YouTube API keys on spurious grounds, anti-competitively, designed to damage the platform above all else. Sadly, it seems to have worked. 

Fast forward a few years, and despite the platform being very dead, Windows Phone might soon be destined for a functioning native YouTube app, thanks to this team of developers from reddit

According to the post, a team of hobbyists are working to restore older versions of YouTube, and have decided to include Windows Phone into its homebrew plans. Since the official Microsoft Store for Windows Phone is very dead and offline, users will have to sideload the app to regain the functionality. There's no telling if Google will block it again too, but it seems unlikely that a homebrew YouTube app for Windows Phone is even vaguely on their radar. 

Despite being doomed, there is a community of Windows Phone users congregating around /r/windowsphone on reddit, extending the life of the platform well beyond its grave. 

A reminder that Microsoft was eternally dumb for killing Windows Phone

Windows Phone

A classic WPCentral.com photo of a Lumia 925, how lovely.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

A short while ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella himself admitted that killing Windows Phone was a mistake, and he couldn't be more right. Had Microsoft had stayed the course, they would be in a far better position to build out and curate their mobile ambitions across artificial intelligence, mobile gaming, and beyond. Instead, they're having to battle regulators to gain access to platforms like iOS, and beg courts to force Google to change default apps and services on Android. 

RELATED: Why Microsoft won't be the ones to mainstream consumer AI 

Since Google and Apple control the default apps on iOS and Android broadly, the opportunities for Microsoft Copilot, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Bing Search, or even Microsoft 365 business apps to gain traction on these platforms is greatly diminished. If Windows Phone had still been around, perhaps Microsoft's prospects in mobility would be a little different. 

Thanks TitleOS for the tip! 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Jez Corden
    Homebrew ftw?!
    Reply
  • Nerdy Woman
    Two days ago, I ordered a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (I don't need an Ultra, but I have an aversion to rounded corners). Its my 4th Android device. And I still hate the OS and miss Windows Phone.

    I remember being able to indicate certain contacts have priority so their texts, emails, and calls always bubbled up. I remember being able to put a lot more icons on my home screen (I LOVED live tiles) and seldom had to go to the app list. I remember the perfect feel of the curved grippable cases of my WPs (925, 928, 930) and the beautiful colors. I never bought cases for them and we got along fine.

    So Nadella says killing it was a misstep? Any chance they'll learn from that? NO. They have a bad habit of pandering to shareholders and killing any product that isn't paying its own way. They also can't seem to decide whether or not they are a hardware manufacturer. They shuttered all their brick-and-mortar stores, and good luck finding product in stock on their website. It seems production runs are limited to proof-of-concept quantities. Sadly, few other manufacturers take up the challenge to build hardware I like half as much.
    Reply
  • bazanime
    I loved Windows phone and jumped on the first handset released till the last.
    I moved on naturally to Android, even though it's less elegant it grew on me and is very versatile.

    I rather not live in the past, instead appreciate the present and look forward to the future.
    So much good advancements have happened since and Windows phone still lives on in the app integration in android and Windows.
    Reply
  • Cmndr_Bytes
    I truly miss my windows phone and the features that i still find lacking on iPhone and Android.
    I found live tiles innovative and very useful.
    And Cortana...dear sweet lovable Cortana. What they did to you was a crime. What they could be doing with you now incorporated with AI would have been magical.
    Reply
  • Cmndr_Bytes
    Jez Corden said:
    Homebrew ftw?!
    I keep waiting for someone to make it possible for me to load Win 11 on my HP Elite phone
    Reply
  • Jez Corden
    Cmndr_Bytes said:
    I keep waiting for someone to make it possible for me to load Win 11 on my HP Elite phone
    that'd be awesome
    Reply
  • Jez Corden
    Nerdy Woman said:
    Two days ago, I ordered a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (I don't need an Ultra, but I have an aversion to rounded corners). Its my 4th Android device. And I still hate the OS and miss Windows Phone.

    I remember being able to indicate certain contacts have priority so their texts, emails, and calls always bubbled up. I remember being able to put a lot more icons on my home screen (I LOVED live tiles) and seldom had to go to the app list. I remember the perfect feel of the curved grippable cases of my WPs (925, 928, 930) and the beautiful colors. I never bought cases for them and we got along fine.

    So Nadella says killing it was a misstep? Any chance they'll learn from that? NO. They have a bad habit of pandering to shareholders and killing any product that isn't paying its own way. They also can't seem to decide whether or not they are a hardware manufacturer. They shuttered all their brick-and-mortar stores, and good luck finding product in stock on their website. It seems production runs are limited to proof-of-concept quantities. Sadly, few other manufacturers take up the challenge to build hardware I like half as much.
    sad truth yeah. i think satya is realizing now that the fact they cant control default apps on mobile is killing bing, edge, and probably their AI platforms in mobile. computing is moving increasingly to mobile devices and itll hurt windows more and more down the line. windows phone absolutely should've stuck around, even if it was just a small platform. losing that anchor is going to bite them in the ass more and more in the future imo.
    Reply
  • Laura Knotek
    Jez Corden said:
    sad truth yeah. i think satya is realizing now that the fact they cant control default apps on mobile is killing bing, edge, and probably their AI platforms in mobile. computing is moving increasingly to mobile devices and itll hurt windows more and more down the line. windows phone absolutely should've stuck around, even if it was just a small platform. losing that anchor is going to bite them in the ass more and more in the future imo.
    Controlling default apps on desktops is what led to the antitrust lawsuit. I never liked IE and only use Edge and Bing to get rewards towards Amazon gift cards. I use Chrome or Brave on desktop. For mobile, I use the Samsung browser and Brave. If Microsoft Rewards ever goes away, I'll have no use at all for Edge and Bing.
    Reply
  • TechFreak1
    It was a and a very costly mistake too... damn short sighted bean counters... throwing away millions and potentially billions of profit - as after all with the Universal Windows App Platform and Continuum.

    The Opportunity that Microsoft lost is this:

    Millions of people and a hell of alot of buisnesses would have bought a phone that allows them work remotely as all they would have needed was a phone and a continuum dock. No need to fuss around with a PC, wait for their work place to shift a PC to them etc.

    Also with UWA and Continuum they could have tapped into Xcloud gaming and now millions of peoples would have subscribed to Xbox Game Pass.

    With Cortana integration, they could have handled transcribing meetings, dictated emails, calendar planning, conference organising. With Rooms, they could have had something that rivals whatsapp etc as that would have had integration with both Skype and GroupMe. So, the friends and family who didn't have a Windows Mobile, they could use either of those two services.

    Then the word about ease of use would have gotten around leading to more sales.

    All of the above would have naturally drawn in a tonne of developers.

    Now people can use one.single.device for work, gaming and personal during the lock downs.

    Millions and Billions of profit... wasted on short sightedness.

    In terms of the casual users and the living room - Microsoft could have beat Nintendo to the punch with before the Switch was released and literally dominated the living room and mobile gaming.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All is not lost:

    Microsoft can still have a massive slice of the pie using Windows on ARM and Continuum. Sure, it will take more leg work now but it's a hell of alot better than foregoing profit opportunities and being beholden to their competitors whims.


    They better release the Surface Duo with Windows On ARM otherwise they are foregoing the entire mobile gaming space to Sony.

    Fortunately, Sony's plans are still a few years out with their "PC Vita 2" to be released alongside Playstation 6.

    I imagine Valve will be working on a Switch like console as they'd be a fool not to do so.

    So, yeah sure Microsoft was short sighted in axing their mobile division but that doesn't mean they have to wallow their misery for all eternity.

    They still have the opportunity to make a major come back as they now have Xcloud game streaming.

    Windows on ARM on the Surface Duo should really tap into the Xbox integration and with Continuum, you could dock the Surface Duo and start gaming on the Big screen.

    Not to mention, they can also leverage all out of Microsoft 365 services and integration too. That will be massive for organisations and for Microsoft's profits too as they can have different service tiers for mobile devices.

    The app front can be easily solved with repackaging WoA apps with mobile friendly UX elements which they already have from the Universal Windows Apps platform. They also have the UX code from Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. So they aren't starting from scratch again.

    Then Microsoft is no longer at the whims of their competitors and regulators and consumers will finally have a viable third ecosystem. Which will finally bring some much needed competition. Win-Win all around
    Reply
  • GraniteStateColin
    Jez Corden said:
    sad truth yeah. i think satya is realizing now that the fact they cant control default apps on mobile is killing bing, edge, and probably their AI platforms in mobile. computing is moving increasingly to mobile devices and itll hurt windows more and more down the line. windows phone absolutely should've stuck around, even if it was just a small platform. losing that anchor is going to bite them in the ass more and more in the future imo.
    Sadly, this was the very point that many of us made to Microsoft at the time: even if Windows Phone is not making money today, keep it as a platform for the future. Once you shudder a project and give up those customers, getting any back is much more expensive. The internal skills and support infrastructure will also atrophy or disappear altogether. Further, the most loyal customers who stuck with Windows Phone, many of those were MS' core evangelists for anything new. MS alienated many of them. It would be like sponsoring an event for fans, then cancelling it at the last minute, after everyone booked their travel. It's just injecting poison into your core market: stupid.

    I completely understand the financial analysis that led to closing down Windows Phone -- on any pure near-term profit modeling, that was clearly a rational decision. However, what they completely missed (and had no excuse to miss, because this is basic marketing strategy) is synergistic effect between those costs and other business lines and the long-term messaging to customers. Exactly as you have written here, Jez, Cortana, AI, Bing, future wearables, Xbox gaming, even full control over the mobile Office experience (one of MS' crown jewels) and mobile integration with Windows on PCs all benefited from the existence of Windows Phone. When MS dropped Windows Phone, that hit all of those in various ways.

    Lastly, instead of teaching the market that MS sticks with its products, iterating on them until they are successful (a branding image they had from back in the Bill Gates days), which encourages users to try new things from MS, knowing MS will back them and any early problems will be solved. MS taught the market that it should never try anything new from MS. Always wait a year or two to see if it caught on, then you'd know if MS will back it. That's a self-destroying approach, because without initial users, there are never any users.
    Reply