Microsoft updates its YouTube Windows Phone app with some concessions to Google

Microsoft updates its YouTube Windows Phone app with some concessions to Google

Summary: The Microsoft-Google feud continues, with Microsoft meeting some -- but not all -- of Google's terms-of-service demands around the Microsoft's recently developed YouTube app.


Microsoft is updating its YouTube application for Windows Phone to comply with some, but not all, of Google's terms of service.


On May 7, Microsoft rolled out a YouTube app for Windows Phone 8 that the company developed itself. On May 15, Google sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter about that app, noting it violated some of the YouTube terms of service, including not displaying ads and allowing users to download content from the app. Google requested that Microsoft either block or pull the YouTube app from the Windows Phone Store by today, May 22.

Microsoft decided to meet Google part way. The company is rolling out, as of 4 pm ET/1 pm PT on May 22, an updated version of its YouTube app for Windows Phone that disables video downloads, but which still doesn't display ads. 

Windows Phone users who've already downloaded the Microsoft YouTube app will lose the video download functionality if and when they apply the update. Those who haven't yet downloaded the app will get the version without the video downloading capability once they grab the app.

A Microsoft spokesperson sent the following statement when I asked about its plans for the app around today's Google-imposed deadline:

“Microsoft updated the Windows Phone YouTube app to address the restricted video and offline video access concerns voiced by Google last week. We have been in contact with Google and continue to believe that our two companies can work together to hone an app that benefits our mutual customers, partners and content providers. We’re earning new customers every day, with IDC reporting recently that Windows Phone posted the largest year-over-year gain among leading operating systems. We look forward to working with Google to maintain a great YouTube experience for the growing number of people who rely on both of our respective products.”

I've reached out to Google for comment on Microsoft's actions. No word back so far.

As a happy Windows Phone user, I can see both Google's and Microsoft's sides in this battle. I want more Windows Phone apps, but I can't blame developers for hesitating to commit time and resources to a platform which is now No. 3 in marketshare, but a very distant No. 3.

Microsoft officials have complained repeatedly and consistently that Google won't provide them with access to necessary application programming interfaces that would allow Microsoft to build a YouTube app for Windows Phone that would serve ads. Microsoft built its YouTube app for Windows Phone with an existing and public YouTube API, but not one that provides ad support.

But Google doesn't allow other phone platform makers, including Apple, BlackBerry and now, Microsoft, to build YouTube apps for their phones. Instead, Google is the one that builds and maintains these native apps.

Google officials have made it clear they aren't interested in supporting Windows 8 or Windows Phone with many Google-developed applications. The implication, at least on the Windows Phone side, is its low market share (around three percent) makes the platform not worth its while to build and support with a native app. Google did build a native YouTube app for Xbox with Microsoft's help, seemingly because of Microsoft's strong share in the gaming console space.

Google has suggested that Windows Phone and BlackBerry users who want to access YouTube do so by going through the mobile YouTube site -- which a Google spokesperson previously said serves up display search and in-stream video ads. (An aside: I don't see these ads on my Windows Phone 8 using IE10, but Google has said they exist.)

Is Google obligated to provide Microsoft with access to its APIs so it can build a YouTube app that complies with its terms of service? I'd argue no, but I'd also point out that Google's CEO recently dinged Microsoft for withholding access to its messaging APIs. Two can play the closed API game. The difference is, Google officials want to claim they are completely open. Microsoft officials don't make that claim.

So now what? Is Google going to sue Microsoft over this? No word. If it does, it could end up giving Microsoft more fodder for its Scroogled Google-bashing campaign -- if not grist for some kind of antitrust complaint, I'd think.

I'm not an app person on my mobile devices. I often find I prefer to access sites like YouTube, Facebook, New York Times and others through my browser rather than through a dedicated app. But what about you, other Windows Phone users? 

Topics: Windows Phone, Google, Legal, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Not updating here.

    Sorry, Google. I'll be ignoring this update, TYVM.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • That's Ok

      Youtube now has legitimate cause to hard block all Windows Phone devices.
      • Hutung end users

        Rarely works but instead alienates them.
        • Dont worry, users have this time choices where to go,

          to a full fledged platform, not a subpar one.

          I can tell you, if my girlfriend doesn't have youtube on her cell, it wont be long before she switch.
    • For those who don't have it

      It's still worth getting. The Ads suck and means Google gets less revenue - a win win result.
    • Barking at the wrong tree

      Google will not force you to update your WP YouTube app. Microsoft will.
      When the day comes, you know whom to blame, right?
      Except, nobody is blaming their God while they stay in the religion.

      Such is life.
      • And who exactly

        Is forcing Microsoft to force it's users to update the app ? It seems religion is no stranger to you either. Pot, kettle black.
      • Wow! Blatant bizzaro.

        "nobody is blaming their God while they stay in the religion"

        If ever a statement in this world appears to be born from personal experience and bias, that one has every earmark in existance.
  • Microsoft should redirect all requests to to

    and see if the hypocrites at google keep singing the same tune.
    • jackbond...They do that already....don't they?

      the Empire strikes back
      Over and Out
    • Nup

      I see MS as the hypocrites here. How about porting MS Office first before they pretend that there .... don't stink.
      • Porting Office Is A Lot More Work

        Porting Office to Android or iOS (which have a completely different architecture) is a lot more complicated than accessing an API for a web application. Microsoft is doing the work to make the Youtube app, how about Android developers make the Office port? If you want the architecture to be ignored then remote desktop solutions do exist so in a way, it IS available. That's Youtube's argument (use a web browser because we won't support your platform).
        • Re: how about Android developers make the Office port

          If you check the Android and iOS app stores, you will find plenty of software that does read and write "MS Office" format documents. Some of this software is pretty good. Perhaps even better than what Microsoft themselves can come up with on mobile.

          However, you are correct that those other platforms do prefer Windows to go away. This is why instead of saying "but, here is remote access, go work on your Windows desktop" they create new software, that absolutely do not need anything from Microsoft. They support MS Office file formats as just one of the supported formats, because there are plenty of existing documents and then, why not support more formats?
      • They already opened their file format

        The Microsoft Office file format is now an open format that can be used by any company -- and is. When Google's apps read a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet, they can do so because of Microsoft's open file format.

        Microsoft is only asking for Google to open the YouTube API, which is a very reasonable request. Microsoft builds high-quality apps for Windows Phone, and its YouTube app is at least as good as whatever Google puts out.

        I am definitely not updating the YouTube app on my phone. I like it just the way it is.
        • History lesson

          The Office docx/xlsx file formats only became ISO registered after the ODF formats were certified first. MS stacked the ISO body with MS employees and paid to have their formats ISO certified, because they can't afford to lose their office suite monopoly. Your version of history is true, but incomplete.
          Besides that, the file formats in this case are youtube video codecs, which are available for every platform because codecs are OS agnostic.

          No, this is like Google copying Office, ribbon and all, and selling it as Office, because Google owns YouTube and MS owns Office. Would MS issue a cease and desist? You bet.

          As to the publicly available YouTube API, the Terms of Service clearly outlines what is allowed and what is not. If MS doesn't agree with the TOS, it can not, in good faith, use the API, just like if I don't agree with a MS EULA for any MS product, I can not, in good faith, use that product.
          Read the TOS for yourself:

          Sorry, nothing evil here from Google, just straight forward, legal, business. MS, on the other hand, is trying to do, essentially, the same thing as anybody using an non-activated version of Windows.
      • Porting MS Office

        I believe they very much want to do that, but perhaps just can't. It might be also that their results so far are worse than the existing productivity software on mobile. This is why, I believe they don't show any of it yet.

        It's an interesting time, that because there are now mass market platforms where Microsoft has absolutely no say, they can't prevent other software companies to demonstrate what is possible.

        As it turns out, more and more people begin to realize Microsoft are not the software geniuses they were let to believe they are.
      • Ah. I see. Microsoft should!

        Microsoft should invent something and then they should also do the work to make it work on other OS's if they want to or not.

        So are you saying that when Google invents something they should also be doing the work to make it work on all the other OS's?

        Or just provide the proper API's for others to create there own products that work?

        What is your real suggestion here. These are really two meaningfully different things you know.
  • Apps over Browser sometimes

    I always thought I'd use the browser more often but if a site or service has an app I've found myself drawn to using those more than their website (even if it is mobile optimised). Especially news sites that will give me a live tile for updates.

    For YouTube, I barely use the service anyway unless there's a link to something I see on Twitter or Facebook but I'd much prefer to browse using a dedicated app that I'm always logged into if I was going to.

    Glad to see Microsoft's trap has worked and they're hoping to work together. I'd say I hope it leads to more collaboration between the two, and bringing other services, such as Google Now, to Windows 8 and WP8, but I doubt that'll happen...

    At the very least it probably made Larry Paige very sad that they might have to actually do as they say for a change, that makes me happy. :)
  • Microsoft updates its YouTube Windows Phone app with some concessions to Go

    Let's see what Google does about it. They didn't provide any information to Microsoft and they aren't developing an app so Microsoft is in the right here. Just don't upgrade the app and show Google that you mean business.
    • hahahah

      Microsoft is 100% in the wrong, they have no entitlement to steal............period

      Don't worry about updating, after the court case, MS will be ordered to hit the kill switch !

      That's why no serious user buys a windows phone, it is app roulette, every week one of your favourite apps gets a takedown notice, facebook clones, now youtube, next week it will be all the Instagram fakes.