With Windows Phone and Google at war, the user loses

By Kip Kniskern | In Featured, Opinion | Posted January 5, 2013 26 comments

Google_Maps_LogoGoogle seems to be bent on declaring war on Windows Phone for some reason recently.  After dropping Exchange ActiveSync for its own open-source CalDAV and CardDAV protocols for Google Calendar and Contacts, and refusing to allow Microsoft access to APIs that would allow for a better YouTube experience on Windows Phones, this week Google again fired a shot across Microsoft’s bow by disabling access to Google Maps when using IE Mobile, the browser built into Windows Phones.

What is perhaps most disturbing about this latest maps escapade is that this time Google comes across as almost completely, well, evil in the whole business.  To recap, here’s a timeline of what’s occurred in the past few days.

What Google doesn’t say is that no one has been able to identify any recent changes to either IE Mobile, or Google Maps that would have forced the need for a redirect.  While there may be legitimate reasons for Google to make life difficult for Windows Phone, this latest barb seems to have only succeeded in making Google look stupid and petty, while making the user experience worse for those who choose to use Windows Phone and Google.

What we’re left with, of course, is evidence of a growing ecosystem war between Google and Microsoft, where users are increasingly being forced to choose between all-or-nothing ecosystems.  That such a choice leaves users with an overall poorer experience doesn’t seem to connect with either the Evil Empire in Redmond or the increasingly Evil one in Mountain View.

That Google seems to be the instigator in these most recent exchanges doesn’t let Microsoft off the hook, however.  As we said before, it’s up to Microsoft and its fledgling Windows Phone to support CalDAV and CardDav, if that’s what it takes to get the highly popular Gmail working well.  They also need to throw money at solve the problem with YouTube on Windows Phone, and that’s up to Microsoft, not Google.  It’s less clear what Microsoft needs to do to provide a great Google Maps experience on Windows Phone, but whatever it is, Microsoft is the one to gain by offering any and all major services on its phones, and the onus again is on Microsoft.

For both Google and Microsoft, the best course of action, if they truly care about user needs, is to provide top notch services while allowing access to the competition, and let the best services prevail.  We’re a long way from that, from either company.

Posted January 5th, 2013 at 5:47 pm
Category: Featured, Opinion
Tags: Google, Windows Phone
  • Avatar Roku

    One point of disagreement, I don’t see Microsoft forcing people to choose all or nothing in their ecosystem like Google is attempting. I see Microsoft making it’s services increasingly available for all platforms. Xbox Live, Smartglass, SkyDrive, Bing, Skype and Outlook apps have been specifically written for iPhone and Android. Microsoft has even published Xbox games for iPhone like Kinectimals and Wordament. Office is in development for other mobile platforms. Xbox Music is supposedly in development for other platforms as well. And certainly I don’t know of any Microsoft websites (MSN, Outlook, SkyDrive, Bing, Microsoft, etc.) that limit access on Android phones. Microsoft has increasingly made an effort to be standards compliant as well. Has anyone pushed HTML5 support more than Microsoft?

    It is not Microsoft who is taking away my ability to sync calendar and contacts with my Google services on Windows Phone. This functionality has been working fine for the past 2 years. Google is puling support with little to no warning because they are purposely trying to harm people who use their search engine competitor.

    I think the more Google unfairly and egregiously targets Windows Phone users the more they raise Windows Phones status as a genuine competitor to Android.

    • Guest

      Right on the spot.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      The effect of Google and Apple’s increasingly walled garden approach is to leave Microsoft little left but its own services unless they take matters into their own hands. Agreed that MS is doing the best job of being open (imagine that!) but as the little guy, they need to force the issue by building apps / connections themselves and not leave the job to Google.
      In the case of EAS, Google chose not to continue paying an MS license fee, somewhat different than the Google Maps incident. MS can’t force others to use their proprietary systems, as they were able to do with a virtual monopoly. They’re far from that now, especially in phones.

      • Avatar Roku

        This is actually factually incorrect. Google is still paying MS for EAS. Google is not willing to give up their paying enterprise customers. If Google told their enterprise customers they didn’t support Exchange their services would be dead in the water. Google is still paying the license fee for EAS but just denying it to consumers who use Windows Phone.

        There’s clever little excuses for each one of these transgressions against Windows Phone, but when you look deeper into these technical excuses they hold no merit. All of these sudden compatibility issues in the last year are happening because Google doesn’t want their services to provide a good a experience on Windows Phone. It’s an attempt to stifle competition and nothing more.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          Google licensed EAS for Google Sync http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2009/feb09/02-09statement.aspx. Last month, Google announced it was dropping the free Sync service (and EAS support), while maintaining Sync for its paying customers, via Apps for Business, etc. We don’t know the details of their agreements, but to think that MS was providing EAS support for Google Sync for free (or, that Google would drop it if they were) is naïve.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          … and just to further clarify, I didn’t say Google chose not to continue to pay ALL fees, just that it chose (we think) not to continue to pay the fee for free Google Sync licenses .

        • http://www.facebook.com/iain.simpson.127 Iain Simpson

          MS should just revoke all EAS licenses to Google.

  • Avatar Roku

    One point of disagreement, I don’t see Microsoft forcing people to choose all or nothing in their ecosystem like Google is attempting. I see Microsoft making it’s services increasingly available for all platforms. Xbox Live, Smartglass, SkyDrive, Bing and Outlook apps have been specifically written for iPhone and Android. Microsoft has even published Xbox games for iPhone like Kinectimals and Wordament. Office is in development for other mobile platforms. Xbox Music is supposedly in development for other platforms as well. And certainly I don’t know of any Microsoft websites (MSN, Outlook, SkyDrive, Bing, Microsoft, etc.) that limit access on Android phones. Microsoft has increasingly made an effort to be standards compliant as well. Has anyone pushed HTML5 support more than Microsoft?

    It is not Microsoft who is taking away my ability to sync calendar and contacts with my Google services on Windows Phone. This functionality has been working fine for the past 2 years. Google is puling support with little to no warning because they are purposely trying to harm people who use their search engine competitor.

    I think the more Google unfairly and egregiously targets Windows Phone users the more they raise Windows Phones status as a genuine competitor to Android.

    • Guest

      Right on the spot.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      The effect of Google and Apple’s increasingly walled garden approach is to leave Microsoft little left but its own services unless they take matters into their own hands. Agreed that MS is doing the best job of being open (imagine that!) but as the little guy, they need to force the issue by building apps / connections themselves and not leave the job to Google.
      In the case of EAS, Google chose not to continue paying an MS license fee, somewhat different than the Google Maps incident. MS can’t force others to use their proprietary systems, as they were able to do with a virtual monopoly. They’re far from that now, especially in phones.

      • Avatar Roku

        This is actually factually incorrect. Google is still paying MS for EAS. Google is not willing to give up their paying enterprise customers. If Google told their enterprise customers they didn’t support Exchange their services would be dead in the water. Google is still paying the license fee for EAS but just denying it to consumers who use Windows Phone.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          Google licensed EAS for Google Sync http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2009/feb09/02-09statement.aspx. Last month, Google announced it was dropping the free Sync service (and EAS support), while maintaining Sync for its paying customers, via Apps for Business, etc. We don’t know the details of their agreements, but to think that MS was providing EAS support for Google Sync for free (or, that Google would drop it if they were) is naïve.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          … and just to further clarify, I didn’t say Google chose not to continue to pay ALL fees, just that it chose (we think) not to continue to pay the fee for free Google Sync licenses .

        • http://www.facebook.com/iain.simpson.127 Iain Simpson

          MS should just revoke all EAS licenses to Google.

  • efjay

    Not sure how Microsoft throwing money around is going to solve the YouTube problem in Windows phone when it is google that is denying access. Are Microsoft supposed to buy YouTube or google to resolve the issue? Its also strange you still refer to Microsoft as the “evil empire” when of all the 3 tech giants they are the ones extending their services to rival platforms, in stark contrast to google and apple. How is that evil, or are we still villifying them for past crimes and at the same time ignoring the questionable actions of others?

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Microsoft earned itself the Evil Empire moniker years ago, and while they’re less evil than they were, we’ve still got a ways to go, as I said ;).
      As for YouTube, Microsoft had a chance to buy it in 2006, http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2006/10/09/what-googles-youtube-deal-means-for-microsoft/ but chose to try to build out MSN Soapbox instead. That they let Google do the hard work of building out YouTube, and are now crying that they’re denied access is quite funny, actually.
      Microsoft can’t, on one hand, deny free access to EAS, and on the other demand free access to YouTube, it seems to me. They’re the ones that let their mobile strategy languish, fell far behind, and now need to play catch up. That’s not cheap, and it’s their own fault, not Google’s.
      Is Google being evil? Yes, afraid so. Should they hand Microsoft an easy way back into the mobile game? For heaven’s sake, why?

      • Avatar Roku

        Google is like the all-seeing Eye of Sauron.

        At least Vader eventually found redemption, Sauron was just pure evil. Only way we’ll ever be free of Google’s tyranny is to throw their ad revenue ring into the great fire.

        How is Google denying access to YouTube only to Microsoft any different than a cable operator who owns the local sports team/channel denying access to a competitor? For your information that is illegal and even providing an inferior version of the channel is illegal. You have to offer the channel to your competitor. If it’s in HD then you have to offer it in HD. We have our laws in place to protect the consumer. Google denying a direct competitors access to YouTube harms consumers. Due to their monopoly status I actually think Google has an obligation to provide access to YouTube and Search to competitors and Microsoft has an obligation to provide Office to competitors.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          Believe me, I’m the last person to argue that Google is not evil! However, we don’t know what negotiations have taken place between MS and Google re: YouTube. Cable operators routinely refuse to pay what sports channels demand (here in Seattle, the Dish Network refuses to carry the Pac-12 Network because they think the price is too high). Offering YouTube for a price, and offering it at a price that MS is willing to pay, are two different things.

          • Mizzle

            Why should MS have to pay to increase the presence of a Google service? This is not the case on other platforms… At the end of the day I understand Google has the right to extend its APIs to whomever they choose, but why limit your presence?

  • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

    Not sure how Microsoft throwing money around is going to solve the YouTube problem in Windows phone when it is google that is denying access. Are Microsoft supposed to buy YouTube or google to resolve the issue? Its also strange you still refer to Microsoft as the “evil empire” when of all the 3 tech giants they are the ones extending their services to rival platforms, in stark contrast to google and apple. How is that evil, or are we still villifying them for past crimes and at the same time ignoring the questionable actions of others?

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Microsoft earned itself the Evil Empire moniker years ago, and while they’re less evil than they were, we’ve still got a ways to go, as I said ;).
      As for YouTube, Microsoft had a chance to buy it in 2006, http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2006/10/09/what-googles-youtube-deal-means-for-microsoft/ but chose to try to build out MSN Soapbox instead. That they let Google do the hard work of building out YouTube, and are now crying that they’re denied access is quite funny, actually.
      Microsoft can’t, on one hand, deny free access to EAS, and on the other demand free access to YouTube, it seems to me. They’re the ones that let their mobile strategy languish, fell far behind, and now need to play catch up. That’s not cheap, and it’s their own fault, not Google’s.
      Is Google being evil? Yes, afraid so. Should they hand Microsoft an easy way back into the mobile game? For heaven’s sake, why?

      • Avatar Roku

        Google is like the all-seeing Eye of Sauron.

        At least Vader eventually found redemption, Sauron was just pure evil. Only way we’ll ever be free of Google’s tyranny is to throw their ad revenue ring into the great fire.

        How is Google denying access to YouTube only to Microsoft any different than a cable operator who owns the local sports team/channel denying access to a competitor? For your information that is illegal and even providing an inferior version of the channel is illegal. You have to offer the channel to your competitor. If it’s in HD then you have to offer it in HD. We have our laws in place to protect the consumer. Google denying a direct competitors access to YouTube harms consumers. Due to their monopoly status I actually think Google has an obligation to provide access to YouTube and Search to competitors and Microsoft has an obligation to provide Office to competitors.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          Believe me, I’m the last person to argue that Google is not evil! However, we don’t know what negotiations have taken place between MS and Google re: YouTube. Cable operators routinely refuse to pay what sports channels demand (here in Seattle, the Dish Network refuses to carry the Pac-12 Network because they think the price is too high). Offering YouTube for a price, and offering it at a price that MS is willing to pay, are two different things.

          • Mizzle

            Why should MS have to pay to increase the presence of a Google service? This is not the case on other platforms… At the end of the day I understand Google has the right to extend its APIs to whomever they choose, but why limit your presence?

  • ocovarr112

    Here is the full statement from Google:

    “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 Google.com 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.”

    a lot of excuses for me in order to protect them selves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ocovarr112 Oscar Covarrubias

    Here is the full statement from Google:

    “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 Google.com 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.”

    a lot of excuses for me in order to protect them selves.