Southwest Airlines tells Microsoft to remove its Windows Phone 'WebApp'

On Monday, it was revealed that Microsoft has been busy going through the content of many popular mobile websites and turning them into "WebApps" with the goal of placing them in the Windows Phone Store. At the time, Microsoft said that this effort was to get Windows Phone users to " ... access great mobile experiences on Windows Phone by creating pinnable Web Apps that show up in the app list."

As it turns out, not every company appreciated having its mobile site content turned into a "WebApp" by Microsoft. Neowin contacted the companies Microsoft included in this effort, and a Southwest Airlines spokesperson responded to Neowin's request for comment with the following statement:

"We have been in communication with Microsoft but have not given them approval to push our content. After realizing our discussions are still early, Microsoft removed our content from the store."

In addition to the removal of the Southwest Airlines app, the Microsoft WebApps listings on the Windows Phone Store website indicates that the Atari Arcade WebApp has also been removed. Neowin has contacted Microsoft seeking additional comment on the status of its WebApps.

Image via Microsoft

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What is southwest upset about? Are they upset at people accessing their mobile website because it may give an unpleasant experience? No wonder these companies have a future of dinosaurs. A Webapp is nothing but a wrapper on a mobile site. I wonder if the company heads have realized their stupidity. They are saying their mobile website sucks the moment they said they are worried about the user experience.

Bottom line until Windows has a unified store and app system we wont get new apps first or at the same time that's the issue and whoever it was that didn't see that as the future should be fired.

I can see this as preventative measure for support reasons, or the lack of thereof with any third-party calling the functions of the website. In other words, the company should prevent third-party calling the website beyond the root server address (even that prevents proper access in an event where the structure of the website changes). The company itself of course should not have to be responsible (or pay for the cost of support resources) for (possible) damages or losses due to third-parties not able to synchronize or pick up the changes to the official websites.

Guys, you're all missing the reason why these companies are ****ed: Advertising. These sites make their money off promotions. Not advertising other companies, advertising themselves. Go to southwest airline's website, what's the first thing you see? A promotion for a winter getaway deal. These promotions are essential for them to run the website and maintain their current profits.

So they need to put a lot of work into rejiggering the promotions if they want to create a mobile app for their site. That work costs money, and they either haven't decided its worth it yet, or they are still working on it. Microsoft's "web apps" parse out the important data, and completely erase the promotions.

And maybe Microsoft might find a way to parse the promotions in too. But the point is that Microsoft is deciding what gets parsed and deleted, and what goes in the web app. Southwest doesn't like that, and they have every reason not to. Because if the web app becomes popular and refined and bug free, then when Southwest finally manages to release their official web app that is perfectly tuned to be profitable for them, it won't matter, because Microsoft's is too popular already.

Think about it this way: some companies don't want customers to be fooled by a WebApp. A customer might see it as an official app when it's a mobile site with chrome-less window. Also, Microsoft did this without getting permission from the companies. It's standard procedure to pull an app like that while discussions take place.

You people and your questionless love of Microsoft crack me up... Does anyone see that screenshot? Would you want that on any app store being promoted under your brand's name? I would definitely not, and I'd hope you wouldn't either. Using their mobile site is different, it's a website... people accept that a lot of websites are ugly but functional, this is not the case for apps.

mantequillas said,
You people and your questionless love of Microsoft crack me up... Does anyone see that screenshot? Would you want that on any app store being promoted under your brand's name? I would definitely not, and I'd hope you wouldn't either. Using their mobile site is different, it's a website... people accept that a lot of websites are ugly but functional, this is not the case for apps.

That's good logic. "Our website sucks but if you turn it into an app it makes everyone realize how much it sucks and makes us look bad"

Well fix your damn site then.

mantequillas said,
You people and your questionless love of Microsoft crack me up... Does anyone see that screenshot? Would you want that on any app store being promoted under your brand's name? I would definitely not, and I'd hope you wouldn't either. Using their mobile site is different, it's a website... people accept that a lot of websites are ugly but functional, this is not the case for apps.

Except that is southwests mobile website...Microsoft didn't make that.

-Razorfold said,

Except that is southwests mobile website...Microsoft didn't make that.

Right, but a valid concern is having people use it in public (downloading it from the store and then launching it from the app drawer, or whatever you have in WP) makes it look like a really poorly designed app and reflects negatively on their company. Also, there is only so much you can do to make an site/webapp look and perform nicely without going native. Perhaps they have an app in the works already, or simply don't want people to think their garbage site is also a garbage app... whatever the case may be, I stand by my statement of people accepting ugly mobile sites (if they get the job done) but not ugly mobile apps.

Stopped reading here... Southwest Airlines

Is there anything more this company can do to purposely tarnish its image?

They were fun cheap flights a few years ago, and when they started throwing people off their planes for idiotic reasons; they have just become nasty in virtually every way possible.


Side Notes:
The whole 'WebApp' thing gets dogged, yet IE on WP allows for a more native App experience than Android or iOS browsers, and it help companies and users with HTML5 standards based web sites instead of platform specific Apps with no added functionality.

Microsoft has been really strong with pushing Web 'Rich Internet Applications' with WinRT even using the IE engine as a part of the native App framework for seamless native and web app integration.

With WP7/8, HTML5 sites do get more functionality and should be treated more like an 'App'. In contrast to Android and iOS, website Apps on WP7/8 in IE9/10 are fully GPU accelerated and also have backend access to native content features.

A good example to demonstrate this to load up a website like Pandora or other site that has HTML5 audio. IE on WP adds this to the system media player and it continues to play in the background, unlike iOS and Android where the music is terminated when the browser drops to the background and controls to the content are not system wide accessible.

Also take note of Microsoft's support rich web sites on Windows 8.1, which allows 'App' features like tile updates from websites.
(This is where the Tablet arguments of iPad vs Android Tablets vs Surface RT is often erroneous as Surface RT can use the majority of traditional web sites and doesn't NEED a specialized App to run properly.)

Edited by Mobius Enigma, Oct 22 2013, 8:29pm :

let me get this straight.. MS builds website, for free which obviously gives credit to southwest... as my daughter says, that's a HERP-A-DERP moment

well ok yeah bad wording on my part. But MS did everything for southwest. Southwest would have come out a winner in this win/win situation. sorry recursive. thanks for catching my Herp-a-DERP

I'd tell South West to go skip off a bridge.

What I think Microsoft should do is change the behavior of IE pinned tiles to show the website's icon, rather than a screenshot of the website. This would solve the "no app issue" very quickly.

Who ever decided it would be a good idea to show a screenshot instead of the fav icon needs to be shot point blank.

Shadowzz said,
Just give WP8 pinned sites the same possibilities as for Win8.1 pinned websites. And every site can be pinned and turned into an app.

Indeed. It would convince me to pin more website to my start screen. Microsoft could also implement a (easy) way for developers to push updates and make a live tile out of it, much like Windows 8.1 pins.

Microsoft also needs to implement folders and sync into mobile IE. I'm tired of having all my stuff unorganized and unavailable.

Tartarus said,

Indeed. It would convince me to pin more website to my start screen. Microsoft could also implement a (easy) way for developers to push updates and make a live tile out of it, much like Windows 8.1 pins.

Microsoft also needs to implement folders and sync into mobile IE. I'm tired of having all my stuff unorganized and unavailable.


I'm hoping for MS to bring these welcome changes with 8.1, because WP8 will be getting IE11 as well and the pinned WebApps is IE11 functionality

More syncing will be great to, I don't want separate environments on my desktop and phone, I want the same environment on each
And folders like on the VITA for example would be a good addition.

agtsmith said,
Why would one want an "app" for every website?

touch friendly? I like this idea of having the content of websites availabe in a UI that is easier to navigate. It's not that traditional websits are alway a bad experience but if its easier to improve the experience then why not?

agtsmith said,
That can be solved by using a different stylesheet for the website.

Can I do that on my phone? And will it offer an app-like experience or does it still feel like you;re ona website?

That's up to the website author to provide a stylesheet for mobile version of the page. Making a mobile version of the page is (dare I say ALWAYS) easier than writing an app from scratch for three platforms.

agtsmith said,
That's up to the website author to provide a stylesheet for mobile version of the page. Making a mobile version of the page is (dare I say ALWAYS) easier than writing an app from scratch for three platforms.

But if they won't? I don't think its all that hard for Microsoft to build these apps. And even if it is hard, for me as a consumer I'm happy they're putting time into creating a touch-friendly interface for something that otherwise wont have a nice experience on mobile devices.

Not Microsoft's best move.

Providing empty shells around web site is not the best experience to offer for users.
Instead of financing the revival of dead TV shows, maybe Microsoft's money would be better spent at developing the key missing apps in their ecosystem.

TheCyberKnight said,
Not Microsoft's best move.

Providing empty shells around web site is not the best experience to offer for users.
Instead of financing the revival of dead TV shows, maybe Microsoft's money would be better spent at developing the key missing apps in their ecosystem.

MS is happy to pay and develop a native WP/Windows app for them if that's the case, they just have to agree to it. MS coded and makes the Facebook WP app for example, not a issue at all for them to do so and FB has agreed for it.

So in the end, with this case, MS can ask SouthWest if they can make a native app for them, zero cost to them and so on, and all they have to say is OK. But if they're being stupid about it and say No, then what can MS do?

TheCyberKnight said,
Not Microsoft's best move.

Providing empty shells around web site is not the best experience to offer for users.
Instead of financing the revival of dead TV shows, maybe Microsoft's money would be better spent at developing the key missing apps in their ecosystem.

Aren't they doing that already? In terms of 1th tier apps they are just about all there, even instagram is on the way. So now we've reached the second layer. This includes apps from banks and other service providers that people often use. But this is more region specific and would require a much more substiantial investment.

Many of these companies dont even have the know-how to build their own app and getting something off the ground for iOS was a challenge for them. So they arent interested in creating and maintaining something for WP as well.

I guess Microsoft wants to at least put something out there. A way for these companies to be connected to the Windows ecosystem. It could remove some of the resistance against building a WP app. Especially as the region in which they operate starts to include more WP owners. Maybe Microsoft wants to point out the amount of traffic they get through these WP webapps.

TheCyberKnight said,
Not Microsoft's best move.

Providing empty shells around web site is not the best experience to offer for users.
Instead of financing the revival of dead TV shows, maybe Microsoft's money would be better spent at developing the key missing apps in their ecosystem.

Microsoft Pushing RIA and HTML5 is good. If Microsoft were discouraging using websites in place of Apps, like Apple and Google are doing, the 'standards' goofs would be out with pitchforks.

Websites on IE on WP is a more 'native' experience than people realize.

Quite frankly I think it's a case of miscommunication. Neowin contacted then about an app that has their name on it that they never made so they decided to be better safe than sorry and requested it to be taken down. If they realized it was just their mobile website I don't think they would've pitched a fit.

What is wrong with these developers for Windows phone? They don't put out their own apps for their products, but when Microsoft does, they say no to it and to remove it. These developers like Google, need to get their crap together and start getting some apps made for Windows phone and also Windows 8 modern.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
What is wrong with these developers for Windows phone? They don't put out their own apps for their products, but when Microsoft does, they say no to it and to remove it. These developers like Google, need to get their crap together and start getting some apps made for Windows phone and also Windows 8 modern.

Seems odd. Microsoft trying to make it even slightly simpler for potential customers to use the services of these companies and then still mope about "we didn't give you approval yet!"

Guess they don't want the business.

Im quite sure a lot has to do with the hatred for anything MS a lot of people carry.
It's also what was behind the anti-trust case I believe, being mainly cause of haters and not because of anti-monopoly issues.

ROFLCOPTERS said,

Seems odd. Microsoft trying to make it even slightly simpler for potential customers to use the services of these companies and then still mope about "we didn't give you approval yet!"

Guess they don't want the business.

Don't worry 3% WP market share is not going to make any dent in their business.

Auditor said,

Don't worry 3% WP market share is not going to make any dent in their business.

True it'll likely not make much difference but it's still a bit petty.

The thing is WP8 is growing. Even if it only ever reaches 10% if you get in with a high quality app that is better than your competitors (who don't bother) then you definitely have an advantage.

So much for the Open web huh.. ! These companies are just sad. I question WHY Msft must even remove these webapps? they're just wrappers of content already publicly available in any browser

dingl_ said,
So much for the Open web huh.. ! These companies are just sad. I question WHY Msft must even remove these webapps? they're just wrappers of content already publicly available in any browser

i just emailed their support staff and also sent a tweet asking what this is all about.. i've spent a lot of money on SW airlines and pinned their website myself, but going as far to have a pin removed from marketplace is just absurd especially if they're not announcing anything official for themselves.

Oh my Gawd, are you fricking serious! Why would they request to remove a stupid webapp which is their own mobile version!

*******…

astroXP said,
Oh my Gawd, are you fricking serious! Why would they request to remove a stupid webapp which is their own mobile version!

*******…


They must realized their IT sucks and gave a crappy website to us. Or maybe they don't want users to book tickets and realize their flying experience is same as the website. Kudos to them for telling us they suck big time. I didn't know they sucked until they opened their lousy mouth.

So they can pay enough attention to the platform to request that basically a link to their website be removed from the store but can't be bothered to write an app. Cheers to United for doing it right. Have booked my more recent flights with United for the mobile boarding pass where typically I fly Southwest. I go where the convenience is.

I find Southwest to be most convenient. I could careless for a mobile app or mobile website.. I would not define that as an important convenience.

CJ33 said,
I find Southwest to be most convenient. I could careless for a mobile app or mobile website.. I would not define that as an important convenience.

Your comment makes no sense both grammatically and logically. Congratulations.

They might be in the process of writing their own app already and don't want to users to be confused that the app MS released is the "official" one.

Xenosion said,

Your comment makes no sense both grammatically and logically. Congratulations.

And your comment shows that you have very poor reading comprehension skills. He had some mistakes but it was still clear enough to understand what he meant. By the way, what are you congratulating him for. Is that how you show your sarcasm ? Congratulations to you then.

CJ33 said,
I find Southwest to be most convenient. I could careless for a mobile app or mobile website.. I would not define that as an important convenience.

That was the old Southwest. They've slowly changed into a more annoying company to do business with than other airlines and taking a tool away from their users for no reason just supports that. They're not even cheaper anymore now that their fuel hedges have run out. Usually I can get a better price through Delta, and I don't have to run for a good seat.

Auditor said,

And your comment shows that you have very poor reading comprehension skills. He had some mistakes but it was still clear enough to understand what he meant. By the way, what are you congratulating him for. Is that how you show your sarcasm ? Congratulations to you then.

Here's the thing. OP said he goes where the convenience is which is to United. This other dude comes in and says a mobile app is not an important convenience for him yet he cares about the mobile app and the lack of this app from Southwest makes them the most convenient.
So, whose comment says what about whom?

Xenosion said,

Here's the thing. OP said he goes where the convenience is which is to United. This other dude comes in and says a mobile app is not an important convenience for him yet he cares about the mobile app and the lack of this app from Southwest makes them the most convenient.
So, whose comment says what about whom?

Let me help you with what this second dude is saying. He is saying that he finds southwest to be more convenient. It could be because of layout of their webpage or better customer service. Mobile app or mobile web is not convenient for everyone because for some people, including me, find it hard to navigate with a limited information on limited screen size. Personally on a 10 inch tablet, I prefer to use regular desktop version rather than their mobile version. He said he care less for mobile app or mobile website so it is not something which he finds convenience for him. I hope now you understand it.

CJ33 said,
I could careless

Good lord! Not content with saying "could" when they mean "couldn't", they are now skipping the space between "care" and "less".

Despair.

I had a feeling this would happen... but it's still not necessarily a bad thing. They obviously just pulled the trigger too early.