YouTube and Windows Phone: The Google-Microsoft slap fight continues

Google CEO Larry Page has a chance to spread peace and love to rival Microsoft sooner than expected after a moving appearance during Google I/O.

“You need to actually have interoperation [between products and technology standards], not just people milking off one company for their own benefit,” Page said at a Q&A session on Thursday.

Page’s comments were directed at Microsoft’s recent decision to incorporate Google Chat into Outlook.com, while at the same time not offering Google the ability to incorporate Messenger and Skype chat contacts into Gmail. Microsoft recently shut down its original IM service to consolidate Messenger contacts with Skype.

Page’s comments also came just as Google is refusing to play nice with Microsoft over YouTube, the search giant’s popular video site. Google recently demanded that its rival shut down a Microsoft-built YouTube app for violating YouTube’s terms of service.

“We request that you immediately withdraw this application from the Windows Phone Store and disable existing downloads of the application by Wednesday, May 22, 2013,” Google’s letter states.

Microsoft responded to Google’s demands with the following statement that complains of Google refusing to work with Microsoft to develop a YouTube app for Windows Phone:

YouTube is consistently one of the top apps downloaded by smartphone users on all platforms, but Google has refused to work with us to develop an app on par with other platforms. Since we updated the YouTube app to ensure our mutual customers a similar YouTube experience, ratings and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. We'd be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs. In light of Larry Page's comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.

Advantage: Microsoft.

Updated 5/24/2013: Microsoft and YouTube jointly told TechHive Friday that they are now working together to update the new YouTube for Windows Phone app to enable compliance with YouTube’s API terms of service, including enabling ads, in the coming weeks. Microsoft will replace the existing YouTube app in Windows Phone Store with the previous version during this time.

How it all started

For most of the platform’s existence, Windows Phone has offered a very poor YouTube experience. The first YouTube app for Windows Phone 7 was built by Microsoft and was basically a hastily constructed launcher for the YouTube mobile site. To say it sucked would be an understatement.

Microsoft
Windows Phone's YouTube app.

That changed last week, when Microsoft rolled out a brand new YouTube experience for Windows Phone 8 and promised a new experience for Windows Phone 7 devices in the coming weeks. Microsoft’s new YouTube app is completely native and lets you easily view your YouTube account, share videos through other apps on your phone, and pin your favorite YouTube videos, playlists, and channels to the phone’s Live Tiles. Simply put, it's wonderful.

But Google isn't happy with Microsoft’s take on YouTube. Microsoft’s app strips YouTube videos of ads, allows users to download YouTube videos to their devices, and ignores playback restrictions set by YouTube content providers. Those are three major no-no’s to Google, with the downloading and lack of ads actively violating YouTube's terms of service.

Open bickering

Microsoft and Google have recently been in a slap fight over access to each other’s services. For some time, Microsoft has complained about Google’s reluctance to open up YouTube’s APIs so the company could make a proper app for Windows Phone.

In January, Google also shut down Sync, the company’s free Exchange ActiveSync solution for Gmail and Google calendar users. The service allowed anyone with a Google account to get their contacts and calendar data pushed to mobile devices that supported EAS. Google said it made the decision to dump EAS in favor of the open CardDav and CalDav protocols.

But … Google’s EAS dump also meant Windows Phone users wouldn’t be able to sync their Google contacts and calendar data, since Windows Phone doesn’t support the CardDav and CalDav protocols. At the last minute, Google made a concession to Microsoft and said it will continue to support Sync on Windows Phone until July 31.

Microsoft plans to roll out CardDav and CalDav support to Windows Phone 8 later this summer, before the new deadline. Google continues to support Sync for Google Apps customers—but a recent spate of updates to the core Windows 8 apps stripped Google Calendar support for all users, including people who subscribe to Google Apps.

Yep, it's getting nasty. But things may look up before long—at least for Windows Phone users.

After Page’s comments about interoperability and how the tech market isn’t a “zero sum game” where one company has to win at the expense of another, Google would be hard pressed not to play nice when it comes to a WP YouTube app.

To get a little Gangnam Style, however, Microsoft may have to give a little. May we suggest helping to integrate Skype messaging with Gmail?

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