What really happened with the Windows Phone YouTube app


You wouldn’t think it would be all that difficult: a working YouTube app on Windows Phone. In fact, it’s not. There are more than a few YouTube players available through Microsoft’s own app store. The problem, as you have undoubtedly heard by now, has to do with Microsoft’s “official” YouTube app. To sum it up for you, Microsoft’s Windows Phone YouTube app doesn’t work — Google is blocking it.

The story began back in May of this year when Google complained about Microsoft’s YouTube app. It was a nice app and included a bunch of features that apps on other platforms didn’t. Microsoft’s version didn’t include ads on videos, and you could download the videos right to your device. You could even watch videos that publishers didn’t want you to. Very cool! Right? Sure, but videos are very processor and bandwidth intensive — not just on your end, but from the perspective of the server that’s providing them to you. Those costs are paid for by the ads that run along with the content. Allowing videos to be downloaded (rather than streamed) removes the content owner’s rights to distribution, and allowing “reserved” videos to be played is a clear violation of the content owner’s wishes.

Back then Microsoft and Google were on pretty good terms and agreed to work with each other to develop a new app that complied with Google’s rules.

Microsoft developed and published a new YouTube app, but shortly after it was launched, Google blocked it.

“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.”

That’s what Google is saying.

Microsoft sees things differently. Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel, David Howard, took to the Internet with Microsoft’s side of the story. He said that Microsoft re-enabled ads, removed the ability for users to download videos, and prevented their users from watching “reserved” videos through their app.

“There was one sticking point in the collaboration. Google asked us to transition our app to a new coding language – 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.”

So, rather than work with Google to get to the bottom of the HTML5 requirement, Microsoft went ahead and published its app. I suppose asking forgiveness is better than asking permission in cases like this.

That’s not what Google thought. The new app was blocked as well.

Howard continued:

“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.”

“Impossible” is a pretty strong word.

In the last few days the Android and iOS versions of the YouTube player have been updated to include a refreshed look and additional functionalities. Perhaps this was why Google didn’t want to approve the Windows Phone app. If that’s the case, Howard’s conclusion seems petty:

“We think it’s clear that Google just doesn’t want Windows Phone users to have the same experience as Android and Apple users”

Speaking as a developer, bypassing ads, adding functionality that no other platform has, and allowing people to download “reserved” content isn’t something that I’d have done if I were writing a YouTube app. Microsoft, it seems, is trying to exploit the platform, not enable it, and its reaction looks more like a kid throwing a tantrum, embarrassed they got caught, and trying to lay blame.

Source: Microsoft Technet


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.