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Google to make Maps accessible to Windows Phone users

After stories suggested that rivalry, not technical issues, lay behind a Maps redirect that bumped IE mobile users to, company says "recent improvements" to IE mobile and Google Maps now provide better experience and Google will remove the redirect.

Google says that it will no longer block Windows Phone users from accessing Google Maps and that the blockage was about ensuring a good user experience, not about intentionally interfering with a rival product.

The blockage generated headlines, with various news outlets suggesting that it was not about poor functionality on the part of the mobile version of Internet Explorer but was more about behavior on the part of Google that, ironically, was beginning to resemble past behavior by Microsoft.

Google, of course, just dodged an antitrust bullet from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and it continues to face an investigation by the European Union.

The search and mobile-OS giant said the following in a statement sent to The Next Web today:

We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.

In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that's why there is no redirect for those users.

Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.

For more details on the story, see Mary Jo Foley's article from earlier today: Google may need history lesson on blocking rivals' products.