Google's war on Microsoft only results in consumer casualties

Not a day after Google snuck by the FTC and was cleared of any wrong doing with its services, Google has come out and blocked Windows Phone users from accessing maps.google.com. We first reported this issue yesterday and since then, it's become clear that Google's blocking of Windows Phone users from accessing the service has nothing to do with supporting the browser and has more to do with screwing the consumer.

We have posted Google's official response below, but in short, they state that they only support WebKit and IE is an unsupported browser:

The mobile web version of Google Maps is optimized 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.

Now, if that really was the case, you would think that changing the UserAgent would result in a poor experience while using Windows Phone to access the service but that is far from the truth. The video you see below is the result of changing the UserAgent to something other than Windows Phone and guess what, Google's maps works just fine.

Why is this important? It's critical to note that the service works fine with Internet Explorer and this is nothing more than a shot at Microsoft that only impacts consumers. It's quite unfortunate that Google has gone down this path as it opens the door to many other scenarios such as what would happen if Google stopped supporting Gmail for Internet Explorer? 

This is not the first example of seeing Google target Windows Phone users as the company has said that it will not build Windows Phone applications and it is currently restricting YouTube access for WP users as well. It's a bit ironic too if you look at Google's corporate values which, first on their list states, "Focus on the user and all else will follow". They should probably add an asterisk to that and put a footnote that says "unless those consumers use Windows Phone".

Quote Via: TNW | Video: Tomverhoeff.nl

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Man seduces thief to get back his stolen iPhone

Next Story

Microsoft updates News and Finance Windows 8 apps

177 Comments

View more comments

FISKER_Q said,

Google Maps is intellectual property Google wants compensation for.

Seems highly related to me.


Do you have any idea what anti-competitive practices are? Google is not asking for money, and Google receives no money for web access to google maps from anyone. Blocking just windows phone is anti-competitive and not directly related to money for intellectual property.

Invizibleyez said,

Do you have any idea what anti-competitive practices are? Google is not asking for money, and Google receives no money for web access to google maps from anyone. Blocking just windows phone is anti-competitive and not directly related to money for intellectual property.

So again, color me confused, but do you not believe that:

1. Virtually blackmailing companies with unspecified patent violations (i.e. pay what we demand, and then we'll tell you what patents you just spent a fortune on, oh and btw, don't go tell anyone, or else...(bound by NDA))
2. Refusing to negotiate FRAND patent rates.
3. Making it native code restricted on Windows RT (thus eliminating proper browser choice)
4. Making you basically unable to change your search engine on Windows Phone 8 to something else than Bing.

Does not qualify as "anti-competitive practices"?

Here's the deal.

Google does not see that the current market share of Windows Phone 8 warrants support, they're not interested in supporting it currently, but people want youtube, google maps, and so forth.

Apple licensed the applications for iOS, they made them, and payed the proper licensing to make them.

Microsoft does not want to pay for them, and Google does not want to make them (especially not with said anti-competitive practices in mind), currently users is bypassing both companies by using the web version of Google Maps.

Google did not want that, hence they plugged the hole.

So it isn't directly about the money, just like your silly notion of Microsoft's patent litigation, isn't just "Microsoft going after compensation for their intellectual property", as if it was actual any less of a "war against consumers" than this is.

FISKER_Q said,
Double negative in the first part, whoops

I guess you have no idea how patents and compensation for intellectual property works. And you really can't compare apples need for google maps to Microsoft's non need of googles apps. If google wants to make its services available to windows phone users great. If not, great. That's not what this is about. Apps are not what this is about. This is blocking of something for the sake of being petty. I use windows phone, And trust me, I don't care about this block because I never would use google maps on my phone. Blackberry isn't paying for any google products, yet they are not blocked. Symbian? Not paying, not blocked. Even feature phones aren't blocked.

Also, if I recall correctly, Motorola was the ones not following FRAND practices by wanting to charge Microsoft a % of everything instead of a flat fee like they do with everyone else. FRAND is supposed to be the same or similar to what everyone else pays. Microsoft is going after Motorola for the same things they went after a long list of Android manufacturers that all agreed with what Microsoft owns and should be compensated for. Motorola seems to think it's too much suddenly. For any who don't know, Google is purchasing or has purchased Motorola, i'm not sure where the acquisition currently stands.

I also do not recall hearing about a Windows RT app that Google made that Microsoft denied. I believe that if that happened, we would hear about it.

And of course, as I stated above, you can use ANY search engine you want on windows phone, the hardware button has more tie-ins that give plenty of reason to not link it to anything else as pointed out by Elmer.Fernandes.

Javik has one again decided to embarrass himself by demonstrating his complete ignorance of FRAND licensing. I've lost count of the number of times he's had to be schooled on the subject.

Invizibleyez said,

I guess you have no idea how patents and compensation for intellectual property works.

I guess an argument against beforementioned anti-competitive practices were beyond your capabilities, otherwise you would have resorted to arguments rather than personal attacks.

I do know how patents work, and those were the kind of tactics employed by Microsoft the last couple of years, which brings us back to the OP's original post, i.e. why there were no posts about that, since patent litigation back then was basically about trolling companies into paying rather than having any patents they needed compensation for.

You may remember that they were eventually challenged and lost badly.

And you really can't compare apples need for google maps to Microsoft's non need of googles apps. If google wants to make its services available to windows phone users great. If not, great. That's not what this is about. Apps are not what this is about. This is blocking of something for the sake of being petty. I use windows phone, And trust me, I don't care about this block because I never would use google maps on my phone. Blackberry isn't paying for any google products, yet they are not blocked. Symbian? Not paying, not blocked. Even feature phones aren't blocked.

It's about the apps because using the service can offset the need for an app, which means that Microsoft has no incentive to do anything about it until now.

As i said it was not directly about money, however in case with Apple they made an app and paid for a license, i'm sure that Microsoft could negotiate a deal that doesn't block the web/mobile(Whichever one actually works properly) version, doesn't require a license to make an app, and otherwise does not require any monetary compensation.

They just have to stop those socalled anti-competitive practices you are casually ignoring/dismissing.

I didn't mean that as a personal attack. Microsoft wasn't going after anything the were not entitled to. Why has EVERY Android manufacturer paid up if there was nothing to pay for? Because Microsoft is so big and scary? Lets get real here. They may not publicly list what they are going after, but they do tell how many patents are being pursued typically (which indicates there are very specific patents that are being protected). For instance, Microsoft is suing Motorola for 21 patents, 19 of which are related to manufacturing devices with Android on them. Those numbers aren't just made up, they have patents behind them to back it up.

Like I said, if Google is not being anti-Microsoft, why is EVERYONE ELSE, whether they pay Google for anything or not, allowed to access what Microsoft is being blocked from?
And as I said before, you can use any of google's services that Google hasn't blocked (Google Maps so far, and I believe Gmail as well now too) on Windows Phone. That is not anti-competitive at all. The hardware button is directly linked to Bing Search, and has Vision, Music, and Scout special search abilities tied directly into it. Linking the Search Button to Google.com would not bring those features up, so Microsoft didn't do it. You also cannot link the search button to Yahoo, Dogpile, AltaVista, WebCrawler, etc. They are not blocking JUST google.com from the hardware button.

Invizibleyez said,
Also, if I recall correctly, Motorola was the ones not following FRAND practices by wanting to charge Microsoft a % of everything instead of a flat fee like they do with everyone else. FRAND is supposed to be the same or similar to what everyone else pays. Microsoft is going after Motorola for the same things they went after a long list of Android manufacturers that all agreed with what Microsoft owns and should be compensated for. Motorola seems to think it's too much suddenly. For any who don't know, Google is purchasing or has purchased Motorola, i'm not sure where the acquisition currently stands.

Nope, the starting offer that Motorola offered for their FRAND patents were reasonable for a starting point, and not unlike prices they offered to other companies.

Microsoft not only refused to negotiate, they flat out ignored the offer.

Invizibleyez said,
I also do not recall hearing about a Windows RT app that Google made that Microsoft denied. I believe that if that happened, we would hear about it.

They haven't had a specific application blocked, they have had an API blocked (oh the irony), i.e. you can't make native applications for Windows RT unless your Microsoft (or close friends with them)

So that means that Google (Or many others) cannot make a proper alternative to the Internet Explorer browser, heck if Microsoft allowed this, then they wouldn't have this issue to begin with

Invizibleyez said,
And of course, as I stated above, you can use ANY search engine you want on windows phone, the hardware button has more tie-ins that give plenty of reason to not link it to anything else as pointed out by Elmer.Fernandes.

Then there is, of course, no reason to provide users the alternative since it obviously superior.

I must admit I'm not fully aware of the search engine settings, earlier posts seem to suggest it depends on carrier and the device.

what API? The only API blocking I know of between Microsoft and Google is Google blocking the API for youtube. There is no API to block for a windows RT app.

Invizibleyez said,
I do not recall and cannot find any evidence of them being challenged and losing badly. I would appreciate a link if that is the case.

It should be noted that i do believe the main focus was Linux, but some Android implementers/vendors were targeted as well.

Basically Microsoft wrote a letter to companies saying they were violating a number of unspecified patents(I.e. the companies had no way of verifying it without risking litigation) and they would like money for it.

Many of them paid up, part of the "settlement" was that they were not allowed to discuss the details of the case(meaning noone else could be told what patents they were using to patent trolls with either)

In the end Microsoft targetted Barnes & Noble for the Nook, which is based on Android, and Barnes & Noble called their bluff, took them to court and eventually Microsoft settled.

Invizibleyez said,
what API? The only API blocking I know of between Microsoft and Google is Google blocking the API for youtube. There is no API to block for a windows RT app.

I'm talking about desktop/native applications, not Windows RT apps.

Microsoft restrict access by only allowing applications that are properly signed to access libraries such as the Win32 API.

Effectively that means that browser developement is not possible as the WinRT API's only exposes the IE rendering engine, and making one without access to lower level code is not feasible.

Edited by FISKER_Q, Jan 5 2013, 11:34pm :

Invizibleyez said,
Scratch that, here is the resolution. Basically there was no resolution but a separate deal was made involving a partnership, so Microsoft losing badly was.... forming a partnership? http://newsandinsight.thomsonr...__Noble_patent_litigation_/

Yes, that is the PR way of saying you lost badly.

Similar to how you could call Apple vis. HTC a partnership even though we both know that Apple basically won.

No partnership would've been made if Microsoft had succeeded in their patent troll.

No problem for me. I've already stopped using google products and never will again. Forwarded my gmail to hotmail/outlook, uninstalled chrome browser, use bing.com for search, etc etc. I still use their gchat service but through a 3rd party chat application.

Even thou we can not change the search button on wp8 to use google, we can set ie to use google as the default search engine. The search button on wp8 is more than just a bing home page. Its more like a app. Try to swipe left and right and you will see more features.

not for nothing, but google has become to big for their own good. they are becoming what microsoft was 10 years ago. and it is sad. i used gmail on my iphone, and i use it now in my windows phone. i dont like the fact i cant switch the search engine from bing, but you know what i can use the browser to go to google search. The only downside i really see with windows phone is the support for apps and developers that i used a lot of my ios device. But that will come with time just like it did with the iphone.

Trolling article is trolling, the fact is that nobody not even Google even cares about that stagnating platform. Reason for which lots of developers won't bother about it.. Only the cry babies and fanboys are bashing Google here.. Neowin - A safe heaven for WP Trolls..

Commenting is disabled on this article.