Are Windows Phone Users Being Intentionally Locked Out of Google Maps?

There’s something funny going on with Google Maps right now: it doesn’t work with Windows Phone. At all. If one tries accessing it, they instead get redirected to www.google.com/m every time, regardless of browser settings. Even if IE10 is set to work in Desktop mode, the same thing happens and it does so when various other settings are tried, such as setting the user agent to Firefox.

Google Maps logo

However, if it’s accessed via the iPhone, the user is initially prompted to install an app for it. If that is rejected, then Google Maps can be accessed normally. Also, if an Android phone is used, it just works and the same goes for a desktop PC running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Only Windows Phone is broken. It’s not yet clear whether this is somehow a technical glitch of some kind, or if it’s deliberate. However, a few things point to this being a deliberate block intended to significantly degrade the user experience with Windows Phone. Firstly, Google has previously stated that it won’t develop any apps for Windows Phone to allow it to access their services, then Google dropped Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support which will kick in later this month. Then we had the YouTube incident back in 2011 where Microsoft alleged that Google deliberately prevented access to their metadata, scuppering Microsoft’s ability to create a high quality application.

 

Finally, we have potentially the most damning evidence of all from the forum user quoted below, who reckons it’s definitely deliberate. This user discovered that changing part of the identification string from “Windows Phone 8.0″ to “Windows Phne 8.0″ (deliberately misspelling “phone” restored full Google Maps functionality. No doubt the dirt is going to fly over this one.

 

The impression I get is that all the enemies that Microsoft has made over the years with their expensive licensing and restrictive practices are really starting to come back to bite them, since they don’t seem to get much cooperation from other industry players outside of their core market of Windows (including Server) and Office and none of these other products are doing especially well, except for Xbox.

From a comment on this article by gmlongo:

“It is definitely on purpose. If you change the user agent in Firefox (using User Agent Switcher) to “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows Phone 8.0; Trident/6.0; ARM; Touch; IEMobile/10.0″, you get redirected to the Google home page. But if you set the user agent to “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows Phne 8.0; Trident/6.0; ARM; Touch; IEMobile/10.0″ (notice I intentionally misspelled Windows Phone), the maps.google.com page comes up just fine. In other words, the only way I was able to get it to redirect is to have Windows Phone in the user agent string. So something on Google’s side is keying off the user agent for windows phone”

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