Google demands shutdown of Microsoft's new YouTube app

Google is seeking to block Microsoft's new YouTube app for Windows Phone 8 because it blocks ads and allows downloading of videos from YouTube's site, in violation of its terms of service.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read
Microsoft's new YouTube app for Windows Phone 8. Microsoft

Google has sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter demanding Microsoft withdraw its redesigned YouTube app for Windows Phone 8 because it violates Google's Terms of Service.

The Verge first reported news of the letter, dated May 15, and included a copy of it on its Web site.

The TOS that the Microsoft YouTube app violates has to do with it blocking ads and allowing downloads of videos from Google's YouTube site.

From the letter:

"YouTube's agreements with creators give them choices inhow their content is presented and distributed, and your application takes away that control.The YouTube Terms of Service and API Terms of Service, posted at https://www.youtube.com/t/terms and https://developers.google.com/youtube/terms, were written to protect content creators from this type of abuse. They clearly prohibit downloads of videos from the site and prohibit accessing any portion of YouTube videos by any means other than through the use of an authorized YouTube player. They also bar applications that modify, replace, interfere with or block advertisements placed by YouTube in videos."

Google is requesting that Microsoft immediately withdraw the app from the Windows Phone Store and disable existing downloads of it by May 22.

Microsoft built the new YouTube app itself, after complaining that Google was blocking access to required metadata. When I asked Microsoft officials recently if something had changed from a policy/API standpoint that allowed Microsoft to deliver this much more robust YouTube app, a Microsoft spokesperson sent the following statement:

"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."

I reached out to both Microsoft and Google for comment on the letter. A Google spokesperson said the company was not offering any comment. No word from Microsoft so far.

The timing of The Verge's report is interesting. Just minutes before it went live, Google's CEO Larry Page, during a Q&A session at the company's annual Google I/O developer conference, criticized Microsoft for taking advantage of Google by interoperating with its Google Talk messaging service and not reciprocating by providing free access to APIs for its own messaging service (presumably Skype).

The programming interfaces Microsoft used to integrate Google Talk with Outlook.com are open, but Google is in the midst of dropping support for the XMPP messaging standard with its just-announced Hangouts, which is the successor to Google Talk and Google's new cross-platform communications service.

This story originally appeared as "Google to Microsoft: Blocking ads with Windows Phone YouTube app is a no-no" on ZDNet.