Saturday 5 January 2013

Google Maps inaccessible on Windows Phone

The chasm between Google and Microsoft seems to have grown a little wider, and it seems Google has cut off Windows Phone users from Google Maps completely. Windows Phone users are complaining that trying to visit the web version of Google Maps redirected them instead to Google’s homepage.

While Google Maps was never officially built for or supported by the Windows Phone platform, prior to this complaint, the service was accessible to a certain degree. Users of Windows Phone 7 and 8 both seem to be facing this issue.

Google released an explanation for the issue, saying that Google Maps rely on WebKit on mobile devices and Internet Explorer for Windows Phone does not utilise the rendering engine. In a statement to Gizmodo, Google said, “The mobile web version of Google Maps is optimised for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari. However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web.”

Google has not explained why the mobile site of Google Maps, which could be previously used by Windows Phone users, is not accessible anymore. There was no explanation as to what changes were made that made the site inaccessible.

On its part, Microsoft a statement to Gizmodo countering Google’s view. “Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 use the same rendering engine,” it said.

Users seem skeptical of Google’s move as their explanations don’t seem to hold any water. They believe Google is actually blocking access to the service. The statement is even more suspicious because Windows Phone and Windows 8 have the same browser, making the WebKit explanation sound like a weak excuse.

The two companies came to a head earlier this week, with Microsoft accusing Google of deliberately sabotaging the creation of a full-fledged YouTube app for Windows Phone.

It looked like Microsoft was attempting to put a little pressure on the search giants just a couple of days prior to the results of the two-year-old antitrust investigation against Google by the Federal Trade Commission.

Dave Heiner, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft, wrote in a scathing blog, “You might think that Google would be on its best behavior given it’s under the bright lights of regulatory scrutiny on two continents, particularly as it seeks to assure antitrust enforcers in the U.S. and Europe that it can be trusted on the basis of non-binding assurances that it will not abuse its market position further. However, as we enter 2013, that is not the case. Here’s just one example: We continue to be dogged by an issue we had hoped would be resolved by now. Google continues to prevent Microsoft from offering consumers a fully featured YouTube app for the Windows Phone.”

Microsoft claimed that even though YouTube was keen to help it develop an app for Windows Phone that would help make viewing videos a better experience for users, Google executives seemed bent on sabotaging the process. Google countered Microsoft’s views, saying that users could access all YouTube features using the HTML5-based mobile website.

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