After a valiant attempt to get Windows Phone users a full functioned native You Tube App, Microsoft appears to have thrown in the towel and the latest "update" to its You Tube "App" is simply a link to the YouTube website, leaving users highly dissatisfied.
Microsoft is intent on becoming a "devices and services" company - but it isn't having much luck with its smartphone which currently has around 3% of the market despite being available on the highly regarded Nokia Lumia.
One of the platform's problems is the quantity and quality of apps available for it. So when it launched a YouTube app that not only played YouTube videos but did so without annoying videos, its existing users were delighted and it looked as though it had a winning app in its store at last.
It didn't take long for Google to respond with a cease-and-desist notice that, initially at least, made it look as it if the bone of contention was to do with the app not serving ads.
Microsoft agreed to withdraw the app in the hope that Google would play ball and provide access to its APIs so that Microsoft could create an app that would be acceptable to all concerned. However, when Microsoft produced the new version in August, which did include ads, Google revoked the API key, disabling the app, giving as the reason that it had stipulated the app was to be built as an HTML5 app rather than using Windows Phone 8's native code.
At the time a Google spokesperson stated:
"Microsoft has not made the browser upgrades necessary to enable a fully-featured YouTube experience, and has instead re-released a YouTube app that violates our Terms of Service. It has [therefore] been disabled. We value our broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines."
This might be reasonable were it not for the fact that not only Android but also iOS are allowed native YouTube apps and at the current time HTML5 isn't capable of providing an acceptable experience.
This week Microsoft has released an updated app - but it's actually a downgraded one. It's the one that pre-dated the May release and, even from its description, it is obvious that what it does is little more than a redirection service:
Can't wait to see the latest videos posted by your friends? Use this app to play YouTube videos by tapping video links in your email and MMS messages, websites, and apps like Facebook. Tap the YouTube app icon to open YouTube in the browser, where you can sign in and browse millions of videos, including favorites and playlists. This app integrates with the Music & Videos hub so you can get to your most-recently played videos and launch YouTube from the hub.
This is indeed a sad state of affairs. Microsoft engineers had done a good job of producing the full featured app, which they achieved by some clever reverse engineering given Google's long-standing policy of being deliberately unhelpful. For a while it had looked as though the two companies might manage to co-operate to their mutual benefit but now it seems Google has won the battle and Microsoft has admitted defeat.