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Google and Microsoft continue scrap over Windows Phone YouTube app

The battle between Microsoft and Google over an official YouTube app for Windows Phone has continued, with the Redmond-based firm arguing that Google has set up roadblocks that "are impossible to overcome."

According to Microsoft, Google has refused to allow a full-featured version of the YouTube app into its Windows Phone app store. Google, however, has argued that Microsoft produced an app that does not abide by its rules.

The current fight dates back to May, when 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. Several days later, however, Google sent Redmond a cease-and-desist letter, ordering Microsoft to remove the app by 22 May.

Microsoft removed the app, and "after we addressed each of Google's points, we re-launched the app, only to have Google technically block it," David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, wrote in a blog post.

In 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 violated Google's terms by allowing video downloads, not displaying ads, and allowing access to videos that its partners have restricted.

According to Microsoft's Howard, "we enabled Google's advertisements, disabled video downloads and eliminated the ability for users to view reserved videos." But there was "one sticking point," he said.

"Google asked us to transition our app to a new coding language – HTML5. This was an odd request since neither YouTube's iPhone app nor its Android app are built on HTML5," according to Howard. "Nevertheless, we dedicated significant engineering resources to examine the possibility. At the end of the day, experts from both companies recognized that building a YouTube app based on HTML5 would be technically difficult and time consuming, which is why we assume YouTube has not yet made the conversion for its iPhone and Android apps."

So, Microsoft went ahead and published a non-HTML5 YouTube, which Google promptly blocked. According to Howard, "Google's reasons for blocking our app are manufactured so that we can't give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting."

But Google apparently also takes issue with the fact that the Windows Phone YouTube app "doesn't always serve ads based on conditions imposed by content creators," and provides a degraded experience. The search giant also expressed concern with the app's branding, though Howard said it has been the same since 2010.

"We think it's clear that Google just doesn't want Windows Phone users to have the same experience as Android and Apple users, and that their objections are nothing other than excuses," Howard concluded, though he said Redmond is "happy to work with Google" on a solution.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.