Microsoft and Google butt heads over Windows Phone access to YouTube

Redmond says Google can't be trusted to play fairly; Google argues Windows Phone users have all the YouTube access they need

Microsoft kicked off the new year with an aggressive public airing of grievances, accusing Google of preventing the Redmond giant from offering Windows Phone users a full-featured YouTube app. Google has sidestepped the accusation, claiming its HTML5 mobile site provides Windows Phone users all the YouTube access they need.

Microsoft made its accusation in anticipation of the FTC shutting down its antitrust investigation against Google in exchange for the company making voluntary commitments to reform some of its practices. Both the United States and the European Union are investigating Google for unfairly penalizing rivals of its search engine. Microsoft deputy general counsel Dave Heiner expressed skepticism that Google would make good on its assurances to antitrust enforcers "that it can be trusted on the basis of non-binding assurances that it will not abuse its market position further."

To illustrate his point, Heiner reiterated an accusation Microsoft made against Google back in 2011: "We continue to be dogged by an issue we had hoped would be resolved by now: Google continues to prevent Microsoft from offering consumers a fully featured YouTube app for the Windows Phone."

In fact, Heiner asserted "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."

At the heart of Microsoft's complaint is "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 website, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones."

Google responded indirectly to Microsoft's accusation: Instead of addressing Redmond's assertion that it can't build its own YouTube app for Windows Phone for lack of access to the necessary metadata, a Google spokesperson told InfoWorld that users "can access all the features of YouTube through our HTML5-based mobile website, including viewing high-quality video streams, finding favorite videos, seeing video ratings, and searching for video categories."

Although Google has built its own iOS and Android YouTube clients, the company has said it does not intend to develop additional apps for Microsoft's mobile platform, citing a lack of Windows 8 and Windows Phone users, according to The Verge.

Windows Phone users have felt the effects of Google's stranglehold over YouTube metadata: When Google made changes YouTube's back-end code last month, it rendered popular YouTube apps for Windows Phone such as MetroTube unusable, per The Verge.

This story, "Microsoft and Google butt heads over Windows Phone access to YouTube," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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