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Microsoft slams Google for hobbling YouTube app on Windows Phone 7

Microsoft says Google won't grant permission for a "high-quality YouTube app" for Windows Phone. So it's taking its complaint to the European Commission.

Microsoft is going to war with Google in Europe, filing a formal complaint with the European Commission claiming the search giant has "violated European competition law". Among its complaints is that Google is hobbling the YouTube video service from working as slickly on Windows Phone 7 as it does on Android and iPhone.

Microsoft SVP and general counsel Brad Smith has published a long blog post outlining the company's complaints, including the YouTube problem. "In 2010 and again more recently, Google blocked Microsoft's new Windows Phones from operating properly with YouTube," he writes.

"Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favourites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones.

"It's done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn't offer a competing search service. Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft's new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do."

Smith goes on to say that Microsoft's YouTube app for Windows Phone 7 is "basically just a browser displaying YouTube's mobile Web site... Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide."

Microsoft has several other axes to grind with Google, focused on non-mobile areas such as Internet search and advertising. It's the YouTube issue that comes as a surprise though: if Google can work closely with its frenemy Apple on the preloaded YouTube app for iOS, why wouldn't it do the same with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7?

Google has yet to respond publicly, and we suspect it will have another side to the story when it does. Smith gets in early with one criticism that's likely to be leveled at Microsoft as antitrust complainer, though.

"There of course will be some who will point out the irony in today's filing. Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly.  This is the first time Microsoft Corporation has ever taken this step," as the pot said to the kettle.