Google once again blocks the Windows Phone YouTube app

Microsoft responds, accuses Google of being unreasonable and deliberately punishing them

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 15, 2013
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(Updated to reflect new comment from Microsoft)

Wow, that was quick!

Only a day or two after the rerelease of the YouTube app for Windows Phone, this time a joint effort between Google and Microsoft, Google is blocking the app, saying that it is, once again, violating the company's terms of service, it was reported by the Verge on Thursday. 

The disagreement seems to be stemming over whether to base the app on HTML5, which is what its other official apps are based on across other devices.

"Microsoft has not made the browser upgrades necessary to enable a fully-featured YouTube experience, and has instead re-released a YouTube app that violates our Terms of Service," a Google spokesperson told the Verge. "It has been disabled. We value our broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines."

Microsoft also released a statement, saying, "Google is blocking our updated YouTube app for Windows Phone.  We are working with them to resolve the issue."

The new app came about after a spat between the two companies after Google refused to develop an app for Windows Phone, which would have allowed those users to connect directly to YouTube. In response Microsoft decided to build an app by itself, without Google's permission.

After Google sent a letter to YouTube, ordering them to take the app down, the two companies announced publically that that they would be working together to resolve the issues at hand.

The new app came with a slew of new features, including the ability to pin videos, playlists, channels and search queries to the Start screen as Live Tiles. 

Users can also manager their YouTube profile, playlists, uploads and video lists, and share videos to social networks, e-mail and text messages. The app also comes with updates search capabilities, including suggestions, as well as a Kid's Corner, for children to only view age appropriate videos.

The issue over whether to base the app in HTML 5 would seem to be something the two companies should have worked out prior to releasing the app. This seems to be a major sticking point for Google, which wants all users, regardless of platform, to have the same experience while using the YouTube app. 

The two companies will, most likely, find a way to fix the problem, but what this really does it highlight how tenuous the relationship between Microsoft and Google is right now, and how easily, and quickly, it can fall apart.

VatorNews has reached out to Google and Microsoft to learn more about what has caused the rift, and we will update if we hear anything further about it. 


Microsoft has released a lengthy blog post explaining the situation, including why Google has decided to block the app.

"Last May, after we launched a much improved app on our platform, Google objected on a number of grounds. We took our app down and agreed to work with Google to solve their issues. This week, after we addressed each of Google’s points, we re-launched the app, only to have Google technically block it," David Howard, Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Antitrust, at Microsoft, wrote.

"We know that this has been frustrating, to say the least, for our customers. We have always had one goal: to provide our users a YouTube experience on Windows Phone that’s on par with the YouTube experience available to Android and iPhone users. Google’s objections to our app are not only inconsistent with Google’s own commitment of openness, but also involve requirements for a Windows Phone app that it doesn’t impose on its own platform or Apple’s (both of which use Google as the default search engine, of course)."

Noting Google's earlier objections to the YouTube app, Howard said that Microsoft "worked hard to accommodate Google’s requests," but that there was still one sticking point: transitioning the app to HTML5.

"This was an odd request since neither YouTube’s iPhone app nor its Android app are built on HTML5. Nevertheless, we dedicated significant engineering resources to examine the possibility. At the end of the day, experts from both companies recognized that building a YouTube app based on HTML5 would be technically difficult and time consuming, which is why we assume YouTube has not yet made the conversion for its iPhone and Android apps," he said.

And for that reason, the decided to publish the non-HTLM version of the YouTube app, "while committing to work with Google long-term on an app based on HTML5." 

The decision for Google to block the app, he said, "are manufactured so that we can’t give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting."

In addition, he also noted that Google was also taking issue with how the app serves ads, or, rather, doesn't always serve them. But, according to Howard, this is just a way to punish Microsoft for not developing the app on HTML5.

"Google also says that we are not complying with its 'terms and conditions.' What Google really means is that our app is not based on HTML5. The problem with this argument, of course, is that Google is not complying with this condition for Android and iPhone. Again, we’re happy to collaborate with Google on an HTML5 app, but we shouldn’t be required to do something that apparently neither iPhone nor Android has successfully figured out how to do."

Despite what he calls "excuses," Microsoft still says its happy to work with Google to give Windows Phone users the best experience possible.

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