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Google demands removal of Microsoft's YouTube app for Windows Phone

YouTube app for Windows Phone
YouTube app for Windows PhoneMicrosoft

Google has sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter telling the company to stop distributing the new YouTube app for Windows Phone, demanding that Microsoft “immediately withdraw this application from the Windows Phone Store and disable existing downloads of the application” within a week.

The news was reported by The Verge, which obtained a copy of the letter sent by Google to Microsoft.

Google contends that Microsoft’s app violates YouTube’s terms of service by, among other things, preventing ads from showing in YouTube videos, and playing videos that YouTube’s partners “have restricted from playback on certain platforms (e.g. mobile devices with limited feature sets.)”

The revamped YouTube app is part of a broader effort by Microsoft to beef up its catalog of apps in the Windows Phone Store. Microsoft itself makes the YouTube app for Windows Phone. A removal of the YouTube app would be a significant blow to Windows Phone, unless Microsoft were able to roll back to the previous version.

The companies have lots of history between them on this topic. As part of its antitrust arguments against Google, Microsoft had complained in the past that Google was hampering its ability to offer a full-featured app for Windows Phone.

When we asked about the new YouTube app last week, a Microsoft spokesman said, “Windows Phone invested additional engineering resources against existing APIs to re-architect a Windows Phone app that delivers a great YouTube experience, including support for unique Windows Phone 8 features such Live Tiles and Kids Corner. Microsoft did not receive any additional technical support to create the Windows Phone YouTube app.”

We’ve contacted both Microsoft and Google for comment on the cease-and-desist letter.

Wednesday, at the Google I/O conference, Google CEO Larry Page criticized the negativity in the tech industry and referred to Microsoft’s recent integration of Google Chat into as “people milking off of just one company.”

UPDATE: Here is Microsoft’s statement Wednesday in response to Google’s letter:

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 ... calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.

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