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Get YouTube app off Windows Phone, Google tells Microsoft

Google has sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter, ordering Microsoft to remove its YouTube app from Windows Phone by 22 May.

Francisco Varela, director of global platform partnerships at YouTube, penned a letter to Todd Brix, general manager for Windows Phone, arguing that the Windows Phone version of YouTube violates Google's terms by allowing video downloads, not displaying ads, and allowing access to videos that its partners have restricted.

"These features directly harm our content creators and clearly violate our terms of service," Varela wrote in the letter, which was posted online by The Verge. "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."

Last week, the YouTube app for Windows Phone 8 got a major upgrade, turning it into a full-featured app rather than a link to the YouTube mobile site. The update came a few months after Microsoft said the lack of a full-featured YouTube app for Windows Phone was one reason why the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust probe into Google was warranted.

In a statement, a Microsoft spokesman said yesterday that "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," he continued. "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."

Page was onstage at the Google I/O developer conference this week, where he fielded a question from a Mozilla employee about interoperability. "I've personally been quite sad at the industry's behaviour around all these things," Page responded.

The Google CEO said the company has been willing to interoperate on things like instant messaging. "[But] just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse, which is really sad, right?" he said. "And that's not the way to make progress."

"You need to actually have interoperation, not just people milking off one company for their own benefit," Page said. "I'm sad that the web's probably not advancing as fast as it should be. We certainly struggle with people like Microsoft."

According to Varela, blocking ads on the YouTube app "causes harm to the thriving ecosystem on YouTube."

Page's comments about interoperability can be seen in the Google I/O video below, coming in around the 3:05:00 mark.