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YouTube Access and Windows Phone: Microsoft throws down the gauntlet

This one has been brewing for a while and it seems that the rhetoric is now stepping up as Microsoft and Google prepare to do battle. The stage has been set and much of the coming drama will focus on Windows Phone.

Microsoft has today written publically about Google’s direct refusal to open up YouTube access so that Windows Phone users can easily use the service when mobile, something we first reported back in March 2011. The plot thickens when we learn that Microsoft has a high quality YouTube app ready to release. Don’t be evil, read on past the break to find out more.

In the lengthy post released today Dave Heiner wrote about Microsoft’s on-going concerns about Google’s misconduct on a number of issues. Here are some of the key points relating to how this is affecting Windows Phone.

“In 2010 and again more recently, Google blocked Microsoft’s new Windows Phones from operating properly with YouTube. Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favourites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones. It’s done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn’t offer a competing search service.Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”  - Dave Heiner Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

“We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”

I recently wrote in length on the situation with a lack of Google Apps and services for Windows Phone. While I argued that many of the services are simply not needed there remain gaps where Microsoft does not offer a competing offering. One such example and source of much discussion was that of YouTube, the official app from Microsoft is not only weak it was recently rendered non-working by API changes.We do have capable replacements but they are all regularly broken by these changes and it’s disastrous for the many users who wish to access the service. 

YouTube Access and Windows Phone: Microsoft throws down the gauntlet

Google is a web company and so it is natural to think that its services should be easily accessible with the built in HTML 5 compliant Internet Explorer. Sadly we also see examples of requests for certain pages to be redirected back to the Google landing page. There is much to suggest that Google sees Windows Phone as a natural competitor to its market share in mobile due to the similarities in how the OS is delivered through independent manufacturers.

"Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone.."

Even under the scrutiny of regulators in the US and the EU, Google continue to actively deny Microsoft fair access to their services on Windows Phone. The recent post from Microsoft shows that they are going to peruse these incidents openly. Microsoft are highlighting Windows Phone as a key area of open denial to services but also mention patent issues and complaints about Search.

“Despite government scrutiny, Google continues to block Microsoft from offering its customers proper access to YouTube. This is an important issue because consumers value YouTube access on their phone: YouTube apps on the Android and Apple platforms were two of the most downloaded mobile applications in 2012, according to recent news reports. Yet Google still refuses to allow Windows Phone users to have the same access to YouTube that Android and Apple customers enjoy. Microsoft has continued to engage with YouTube personnel over the past two years to remedy this problem for consumers. As you might expect, it appears that YouTube itself would like all customers – on Windows Phone as on any other device – to have a great YouTube experience. But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.” - Dave Heiner Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

The odd thing here is that it sounds like Google execs are blocking YouTube from providing this service to Windows Phone users. YouTube have an app for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console and of course uses the Windows operating system as the main delivery method for all its services through its own Google Chrome browser and Internet Explorer. Why should the web advertising company feel so threatened by Windows Phone considering the currently small market share it possesses?

"But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.."

One glaring answer for all this malice from Google could of course be their simmering rage that Microsoft is now allegedly making more money from Android than Google itself. Microsoft has been busy behind closed doors signing everyone using Android to pay royalties on each device sold. Some believe that Google should be charged with dumping their OS in the marketplace, making a product free that’s based on long held patents for which it has not paid. 

One thing is for certain, the battle between these two giants is only getting started. We would hope that some sensible agreement between the two companies can be reached before it comes to blows. As this tit for tat ramps up could we see Microsoft block Google from its operating systems? We have already seen Google drop consumer support for ActiveSync which will directly affect users and make it harder for those with Gmail accounts to use Windows Phone. As entertaining as it would be to see these two go head to head it will only hurt users in the long run.

We’d like to hear from you guys on what you think about this on-going drama and ideas for what can be done about it. Comments are now open, so sound off.

Source: Technet (opens in new tab) (Microsoft); via ZDNet Mary Jo Foley

376 Comments
  • Google sucks...
  • Thank you for that insightful analysis
  • You're welcome. I usually charge but for you it's free.
  • HAHA love it..
  • +1 lmao
  • No analysis needed.
    Google sucks for doing this.
    When I first read about sh** like this from Google (first with Gmail, and now Youtube?),
    I decided to stop using Gmail altogether. I'm a WP fan and if Google wants me to pick, I pick WP! I imported all my emails to my new Outlook account using Microsoft Trueswitch. It worked like a charm..
    and the rest is.. history.
  • @Machina - Agreed....  I switched to an Outlook . com account and used Trueswitch to transfer all of my emails.  Now I only use my gmail account to log into Google+ and Google Voice.
    I actually owe google a thank you for finally making it hurt enough to make the switch.
  • I wonder... should Microsoft ban Chrome from the desktop OS ? Just to see how Google will react to that..
  • A few years ago, Google fought MS for system-wide search rights on Vista, and the EU forced MS to offer some choices (if I remember it correctly). It seems petty now for Google to do this via YouTube, but MS would be fined for such a move to restrict Chrome on Windows, and all the "monopoly" police would be out in force.
  • Yes. And also disable using all Google products. Not sure how but somehow.
  • google sucks!!!... microsoft should ban google ... hmm
  • Microsoft SHOULD threaten Google with dumping their services if they don't cooperate more.  Why should Microsoft have to play ball with Google but Google be allowed to refuse services that they only acquired in recent years (meaning their YouTube acquisition, which I feel was a TERRIBLE thing for users/consumers) to a company that is the sole reason of why they exist in the first place?  How high is the percentage of YouTube hits coming from Windows operating systems?  I'd venture to guess at least 80%.  Before there was Chrome it was mostly IE and some Firefox access.  I bet the YouTube crew are sad that they can't fully extend onto the Windows Phone platform.  If this continues, I hope Microsoft stab Google in the back by shutting the company out entirely (if they can find a way to do it without having their hand forced by government officials to overturn).  We'll see how long they last at that point.  No it's not all good for consumers, but porting your calendars and email from one service to the next is pretty easy.  Nobody's going to miss Google+ or GooglePlay on PC's anyways.
  • What have the industry come to..
  • I remember when google was really open to other platforms and giving to its users
  • Google sucks!
  • If I were actually a google fan... +1 But I refuse to use google services (excluding YouTube, cause there's no viable alternative)... especially the silly and useless google+
  • I am much same as you. The only google service i will use is YouTube. 
    It's just a shame you have to go for a third party app such as MetroTube to have a good experience with it on Windows Phone.
    Albeit MetroTube is great but most people won't want to pay for a YouTube app when there should be a decent quality native version.
  • MetroTube is free. Trial is full version. You only pay to support them, but I know what you mean.
  • I only  used to use Youtube, that was it. I paid for metrotube and am very happy. I have twins and wanted to get 2 Surface tablets for my 7.75 year olds. Lets see. $1100 for 2 Surface versus $460 for 2 android tablets that will get trashed. I brokedown. I will still get 2 Surface tabs for the wife and I. I used to be Total MS, I will never breakdown for iCrap.
  • Tablets for 8 year olds. Sigh.
  • lol.. ditto.
  • I signed up for smartphones and tablets when my kids were in womb to make sure they were cool when they were born.
  • Have you heard of PrimeTube, its free and a great quality alternative to MetroTube.
  • Metro Tube is better than the iPhone Youtube app and Androids iTunes app. I love the layout and it just works.
  • F... Google!
  • Google Eeeeevvviillllll
  • YouTube and Google Reader are the only Google services I currently use. I wish I could get rid of them but there's not a suitable replacement, especially for YouTube. Anyway, I'm really not liking Google at all. They are becoming what they rejected.
  • I'm in the same boat.  Someone pointed me to Nextgen Reader until I realized it is just an interface to Google Reader.  *sigh*
  • Metrotube and Weave
  • +1 Google is another Netscape, history always repeats: Microsoft remains, others disappear.
  • What video sharing site does Metrotube interface with? Third party RSS are cool but what about when I want to read them on my computer or tablet? This is why Google Reader is great because it keeps your feeds information synced no matter what device you access it from.
  • this is why there should be a replacement for YouTube. A MS owned service. I am done with google. It is either MS products and worse case apple
  • I agree. Why not start your own video service & call it SkyView or something relevant to MS. Look how much ground Vevo is starting to pick up. I say go for the gusto & bring in something new. YouWho?
  • And block Android and chrome OS... (and google+)
  • Yeah block Google stuff on Windows...
  • I say Microsoft should buy Vimeo and make it more like YouTube.
  • Exactly... Vimeo can be a real competitor to YouTube ...
  • And Vimeo looks waayyy better than YouTube
  • Agreed. Plus there's already apps established for almost all major platforms.
  • good idea..
     
  • You got it wrong. They never rejected it. They were always hypocritical bastards but and the signs were always there but now that they are in a position of power it becomes obvious to everybody.
  •   Totally in the same boat. There's still nothing better than GReader, and YouTube is still great.   Personally, I don't care that much about either of them - YouTube's mobile browser site is perfectly adequate for my needs, and there are GRreader clients (such as FeedWorm) for WP7 that kick many kinds of arse.   But despite my personal nonchalance, I think if MS is good at anything, it's business tactics. Google has long been seen as a kind of benefactor, a giver-away of good free stuff. MS is one of the few businesses with the power to drag them through the mud and take off a bit of that shine.
  • google is a giver-away of free stuff the same way that a fisherman gives away free worms.
  • Very good. Very good indeed. 10 points.
  • + a googol
  • LOL, well said
  • Google is setting themselves for an anti-trust suit if they keep this up.
  • They already should. They have overstepped the bounds of fair competition MANY MANY times.  Look at what they are doing towards Microsoft through Motorolla.
  • Anti trust suit! Lolz! If there was, it would have happened a year or two ago. If it doesn't have MS attached to the suit, nothing will happen.
  • Actually, the FTC is often the party to initiate an antitrust suit with the goal of consumer protection, and such a suit can take years to research prior to filing.
  • I believe they are already under review by the FTC...
  • Not cool Google, not cool.
  • Even Ubuntu Mobile has Google's support!
  • except gogle will never allow it to be sold.
  • Work with Apple, not with google
  • This sounds eerily similar to the Palm versus Apple dispute regarding iTunes sync. Disturbing to say the least.
  • Google needs a beat down. I'm for hire.
  • I'll pay. How much to punch Eric Schmidt right in the tesitcles?
     
  • I'll do it for free !
  • I'm confused on this one. Is Google just changing the API to actively deny Microsoft, or is Google changing the API and that breaks Microsoft's app until it's updated to work with the new changes to the API?
  • They changed the API and the dev of a WP youtube app has already said that they have the fix in and waiting for apporval. 
  • The breaking of the API is something completely different.  Google won't allow Microsoft to legally access HD YouTube videos on mobile. The third-party apps on the WP Store do this by technically bypassing Google's API, in other words, they violate Google's usage request. The reason why MS can't release their own MetroTube is because they're obviously under a lot more scrutiny and can't get away with what indie devs are doing.
  • Has Google not released their own YouTube app for Windows Phone? I'm wondering if there's more to the story than we publicly see. Google makes the app for both Android and Apple. Regardless, thanks for the insight into this situation.
  • No, Google has not released a YouTube app for Windows Phone...that's the point. They won't and have said they won't.
  • No, Google refuses to make apps for Windows Phone, and does whatever it can to stop any apps meant to use Google services not work correctly.
  • To be fair, I don't recall nextgenreader, a google reader client, ever breaking because of google
  • Thats a service that Google doesn't update too often. Also, it doesn't require devs to skirt around Google with undocumented APIs like Youtube does.
  • Google have said they are nit developing any software for Windows Phone, and Windows 8. (I think that includes RT)
  • Based on the article, I'd say it's the former, especially when the article quotes "We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”. 
    From that, it sounds like the app isn't broken due to changes in API, but that the app can't even access Youtube simply because Google just says no. 
    But that's based on this article.  I haven't really looked for any other sources of info that supports this or gives the other side of the story yet.
  • Yall are completely misunderstanding this. Lol.
  • Then why don't you correct him. Lol.
  • Daniel already did.
  • This is exactly what I was saying, I absolutely believe the win phone is a direct competitor to the android OS and google is showing fear by actually blocking the devices.
  • MS should have bought You Tube before Google got their hands on it, I was surprised they didn't at the time.
  • What would the world now be like...?
  • Based off of MS's past success with buying stuff, YT would of been renamed 3 times, would of folded into Live, before untimatly being killed in favor of XboxTube after they spent 1.3 billion on it. 
  • Like they did with Skype, huh?
  • Live is bring rolled into Skype...
  • Better ? ;]
  • Isn't it about time we begin, as a community, boycotting Google and its products?
  • I already stopped using Chrome on my computer and stopped using Gmail. From now on, bye bye YouTube. I will use Bing/MSN videos and Vimeo.
  • Yup. I did this:
    GMAIL ->Outlook
    Google Apps -> Skydrive
    Chrome -> IE
    Google -> BING (reluctantly going back if I need search by date)
    All my audio is with iTunes until MS have a music locker and music matching working 100% then I am off Apple too.
    YouTube is the only thing left. MS need to win this somehow.
  • Me too:
    Gmail -> Outlook
    Chrome (as secondary browser) -> Firefox (as secondary browser)
    Google -> Bing
    Picasa -> Live Photo gallery (and some other programs)
    I even looked into Vimeo, but it isn't the same. There is no YouTube alernative.
  • I have already migrated away from Gmail but the one thing that I don't see myself moving away from, is YouTube. No other VOD service can match it in content right now, and I don't see that changing either.
  • I'm already there brah...completely de-googlized for 2013
  • Yes it is, no need to support evil-doers.
  • Just ported my Google Voice number to ATT - that was the last of my Google accounts that I actually use...
  • I wish there was something that was equivalent out there, but there isn't.  GV is more than a nice-to-have for me.  It's a way of life.
  • Yea, google voice is a hardone to give up....wish MS had a true "free" product like that.
  • Yes, but not because of this although it does underscore the problem. They are starting to abuse power.
  • Yea, I already started doing this too. I started well before these issues and for different reasons, but this just confirms my decision. I haven't found a good alternative for google reader though. There are other RSS apps, but nothing that syncs across the phone and computer. Unless I completely missed something. As far as YouTube is concerned, I don't see me giving up on that anytime soon. I don't even think I know anyone that knows what Vimeo is. I am fine with saying "I don't have that app" but not with saying, "I can't watch that YouTube vid, upload it to Vimeo"
  • Why didn't you folks use MS's ecosystem in the first place? You all own WP. Use it to your advantage.
  • The only google service I have actively used is YouTube..i have never used Gmail,etc actively. I have a Gmail account only for Gtalk and YouTube.. Man, I sometimes can't believe that google has gotten into every sphere of virtual life..damn!!
  • After Google's Gmail fiasco I went over to outlook full time. I still use YouTube and Google reader though as I haven't found any suitable alternatives.
  • I don't care for Google's tactics. But until there is a viable YouTube competitor, no can do
  • Would it make sense for Microsoft to create a free video hosting service like YouTube?  Maybe integrate it with SkyDrive somehow?
    Google makes money of ads, but Microsoft has a different business model, so I don't know how they would make money on something like this.
  • What MS should do is buy Vimeo, it's already a good alternative to YouTube. It just needs more promotion and content, Done right it could easily overtake YouTube and its annoying UI changes
  •   Microsoft has dabbled with video services but YouTube is something they couldn’t really compete with at this point. There are services like Vevo and Vimeo which have nice apps for Windows Phone but this isn’t really YouTube beating stuff. 
  • MS had something like Youtube but it never really took off.  I can't even remember what it was called.  In the end Youtube gained the brand recognition first and that is all that matters.  Thats why MS paid 9 billion dollars for Skype even though their already had VOIP technology of their own.
  • It was called MSN Soapbox, or officially, Soapbox on MSN Video. It started in 2006, and was shut down in August 2009 as it never really took off.
  • Soapbox.
     
  • Soapbox - it was never even close to a YouTube competitor.
     
    http://allthingsd.com/20090617/microsoft-ready-to-give-up-on-its-would-b...
  • You create an awesome video service and then you only allow access to xbox live gold subscribers. 
    You give a watered down version available to general users (AKA xbox live silver subscribers) but you use BING ads on the page
     
    This gives you added Gold subscriptions and causes some people to think "Hey, I already have a Gold Subscription..let me get an xbox and check this out too"
  • Does Google somehow lose out on ad revenue through this mobile app, becasue I see no reason why they would block anyone even Microsoft as long as they are still getting their due, especially if someone else already did the developement for the app.
  • Maybe they would rather lose the income, then support WP?
  • Do it. Block Google products from installing in Windows. See how fast they change their tune. LOL.
     
    Just uninstalled Chrome.
  • They can't do that, that would be like the most anti-competitive move in the history of anti-competitive moves
  • Especially since MS just ended a long tenure of being under Anti-Trust rulings
  • yes but Google do just that with Windows phone user so....
  • me too just Uninstalled chrome
  • Plus 1 on all chrome uninstalls.
  • I just uninstall chrome and kill my gmail acount....
  • I think it should be mentioned right now that Chrome is built of the Chromium project which is effectively the same browser without googles input.
    I personally use a browser called Comodo which is built off Chromium but with better security features. If microsoft would just add scripting to IE then i would be devoid of this completely but they just never seem to...
  • Surprisingly, IE10 works better and it's faster than Chrome on Windows 8 so I didn't even bother installing Chrome. And now after reading this article, I don't think I will ever use a Google service again... I hope. Wish me luck.
  • MS should block youtube on IE
  • LOL! My kids and any one of the other 10's of millions who don't know of 3rd party browsers would freak the ef out if they couldn't get on YT.
  • LOL.
  • At least redirect users to their open letter about Google's evil ways before letting them get to YouTube.
  • Can we get a Bing Videos app from MS? LOL! 
  • MSN videos.
  • Two things:
     
    1. There is an MSN Videos app that does
     
    2. Bing Videos is actually integrated into the Bing Search "app" on Windows Phone 8.  So no need for a seperate app.
  • Anti competitive behavior from Google? Who didn't see that coming? Microsoft can exercise some serious klout with their OS and their enterprise offerings. MS could make life difficult for Google if it so chooses.
  • We need Google and Google needs us. Make love not war. I dont understand Google's problem.
  • AGREED!!!
  • Google sucks man not only do I dislike their mobile stuff but I really REALLY HATE THAT THEY FUCKED UP YOUTUBE FUCK ADS
  • Yeah the ad situation on Youtube is getting out of control. I use to listen to music on it a lot, but I had to give up because every song was preceded by 30 second political campaign commercials.
  • Its basically an ad-porn site. Let them continue though. They're just paving the way for a new and better video site
  • Out of control is an understatement
  • Fucking google
  • Basically there is no public API for YouTube and they don't want to make a native app for WP or give anyone else access to the private API to make a 3rd party app.  I guess it's within their right to do so, but it seems like a lame move by Google, espcially when MS is willing to do the work to make an app for them.
  • Google needs to get there hands slapped hard. This is so anti-competitive it's silly its been allowed to go on this long.
  • can we slap it with an axe?
  • Hehe +1 =)
  • Being anti-competitive isn't by itself illegal - the burden for illegality is much higher.
  • True.
  • A part of me wants to see a really bloody battle where Microsoft steps up and body slams Google on the mat at the end. The other half wants a nice resolution where all services work on all platforms.
    SMACK! The nice half just got beat down by the battle half.
    Let's Rumble!
  • Simple..Microsoft threaten to block google.com on desktops ( at a stroke Google would lose 50 % of its income )....then see them squirm. Hopefully it all gets sorted amicably but when company resort to blatant protectionism...some times only the big stick works.
  • Yeah its obvious Microsoft has the upper hand its just a matter of how far Microsoft is willing to take it.
  • "But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.”   Where's the proof? What did you learn? Does google have someone working there named "YouTube"? Sounds like this should be rated a 1 on the rumor meter. But I guess it gets clicks eh. 
     
     
  • Your tone is quitte disparaging and if you follow our links, you would get the whole story. But I'll hold your hand on this one since you're having trouble:
    "Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide." -- Brad Smith, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Microsoft
    The person who you're quoting in the article is the Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Dave Heiner of Microsoft. So I'm not sure how this would be classified a "rumor" unless you're just calling Microsoft liars?
  • I don't follow links if I don't know what you are linking too. You may see the comment as disparaging, I see the comment as asking questions that wasn't answered.
    I see that the article has been updated to show what exactly MS is talking about in the article. MY comment wasn't about the article itself, more so about the the comment MS made as to what it "learned" and how it learned such infomation.