Why is Google blocking the new YouTube app for Windows Phone?

Why is Google blocking the new YouTube app for Windows Phone?

Summary: Google and Microsoft are at it again. The just-released and jointly developed YouTube app for Windows Phone is now being blocked by Google.


Just when you thought Microsoft and Google had found common ground over YouTube for Windows Phone, all hope is dashed.


Google is blocking the just-released YouTube for Windows Phone app, as noted by Tom Warren at The Verge on August 15. This is the new version of the app that, last we heard, was being developed together by Microsoft and Google.

Both Google and Microsoft are confirming Google is blocking the app.

Here's what Google is saying (via a statement from a spokesperson):

"We’re committed to providing users and creators with a great and consistent YouTube experience across devices, and we’ve been working with Microsoft to build a fully featured YouTube for Windows Phone app, based on HTML5. Unfortunately, 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. It has been disabled. We value our broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines."

This is what Microsoft is saying (via a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson):

“Google is blocking our updated YouTube app for Windows Phone. We are working with them to resolve the issue.”

I asked Microsoft officials for more specifics as to what they need to change to meet Google's criteria. I also asked when Microsoft expected to have an updated YouTube app in the Windows Phone Store. Microsoft officials are not commenting.

In early May, Microsoft fielded a YouTube application that it built itself for Windows Phone 8. The problem: The app violated Google's terms of service by not serving ads and allowing video downloads. Google sent Microsoft a cease-and desist; Microsoft subsequently updated its app, ceasing video downloads but still not serving ads. in late May, Microsoft and Google said they were working together on a new YouTube app for Windows Phone that would comply with youTube's terms of service, including enabling ads.

Corporate politics at its worst...

Here are the questions I have after this latest dust-up. If Google and Microsoft were working together on this, how did things go so awry? If teaming fell apart, why? Did Microsoft balk at building an HTML5 app? (That seems unlikely given all the HTML/JavaScript love inside Microsoft these days.) In short: What the heck went wrong -- this time?

Update: Microsoft is now saying that its work with Google on this app ended because of Google requesting that Microsoft build the YouTube app in HTML5. Microsoft says that neither the iPhone nor Android YouTube apps are buillt in HTML5. So Microsoft decided to go ahead and publish a non-HTML5 version of its app in the Store this week. 

"It seems to us that Google’s reasons for blocking our app are manufactured so that we can’t give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting. The roadblocks Google has set up are impossible to overcome, and they know it," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Howard in Microsoft's blog post response.

I've asked Google for a response. Nothing back so far.

Topics: Windows Phone, Google, Microsoft, Software Development


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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  • I've read that Google is blocking ALL access to YouTube on WP8


    "It appears that the third party app MyTube is also having issues playing videos (after multiple plays), meaning this is looking like a Google change."

    It would appear that Google has been revoking developer licenses from anyone who dares write a WP8 app.

    Nice. I like Google but this is a very apple-esque move.
    • Glad that I dumped everything Google 5 years ago.

      Google is collection of pathetic individuals with no professionalism and ethics and makes money by selling your private data.
      • And yet

        even after 5 years (apparently) you're still banging on with the same pathetic and whiny drivel against Google.
        We get it, you don't like them. Don't use them, and go lock yourself in the basement and don't come out.
        • Another good reason not to buy a crappy windoze phone

          Kudos to Google!
          • What if they blocked...

            The IPhone from using YouTube? Hmm CaviarRainbow?
          • Re:

            They would lose millions. The iPhone makes more money for Google than Android, believe it or not.
          • I don't believe it

            I am afraid that I don't believe that Google is making more on iPhone. Android phones dominate the smartphone market, and 1 click on all Android phones needs possibly 4 clicks on iPhone to make the same volume.
          • Money

            If they were to do that, content providers will look for alternatives, their revenues decrease and their stock will reflect that
          • It wouldn't bother me a bit, @Unbiased4You

            Especially since I don't own an iPhone.

            Block away, fool...
          • Windows Phone

            My son and I both have, and use the Windows Phone from Nokia, and have found them to be just fine thank you.
            Music 10
            Video 10
            Camera 10
            Other features 10
            We are not involved in the Apps world, so it doesn't matter to us.
            For those of you who just got to have the big apps selection, well, more power to you.
            Get an Apple or Android device, it's not going to hurt my feelings.
            Paul on the Mesa
          • Nokia

            I like the Nokia cameras, too, but you forgot to list:
            Battery life 4

          • Lucky not on WP ship

            Luckily that I did not jump on to the WP ship.
          • Why

            All you guys do know you can just go to youtube with IE on the WP8 and it works fine with all content?
        • Well it seems we all are in basement 5 years back or

          before YouTube started. Guess not. I was happy without YouTube and hopefully most of the world was not dysfunctional without YouTube. Probably you would be going back to rocks or your mother's basement if at all YouTube gets dethroned. Here no love for YouTube. That is one stupid media outlet with bigger content base, that's all.
          Ram U
    • Rules are Rules

      TB3, I normally agree with you 100%, however, I think you're off base withthis one.

      When a company sets up rules to use their products, you must follow them are get block.

      this is what happen Google have Rules but MS (and others) decided to not follow them.
      Marty K
      • The rules

        Google doesn't seem to care about the app not being html5 on Android and iOS.

        Guess that rule only matters if you're Microsoft.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • Yeah, where's the Justice Dept. investigation?

          Google is clearly abusing their YouTube monopoly!
          • Unfair Competition

            Google is trying to prevent Windows Phone from gaining any meaningful market share by blocking access to Google services......this is anti-competitive behavior....
            Doctor Demento
          • Same with Linux

            Come on, Microsoft has been anti competitive to Linux for the last 20 years.
          • No it hasn't

            Microsoft is one of the larger source contributors to Linux now, and offers Linux as part of Azure.