On Friday, a forum user on The Verge pointed out the behavior saying that while attempting to access Google Maps from a Windows Phone device, he was redirected to Google’s main homepage. Here’s what the user had to say in his post, titled "Google maps disabled on wp8”:
“When going to google maps on my wp8 device I get redirected to the homepage. I think google blocks it for WP users either because of compatibility issues or just to mess with MS. Anyway seeing to current relationships between the 2 companies I don't expect it to come. A pity because I needed it recently because bing/nokia maps are not as good. Another way users are being set aside.”
Following this revelation, rumors started floating around that blocking the Windows Phone users from accessing Google Maps was Google’s decision. Later on, however, it turned out that the claim was incorrect as Google Maps was never really designed to support the Internet Explorer browser on the Windows Phone platform.
A Google spokesperson gave a technical explanation in a statement obtained by Gizmodo like this:
“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.”
As The Los Angeles Times pointed out, the theory that Google decided to stop the Windows Phone users access Google Maps looked reasonable given the ongoing tension in relationship between the companies.
Microsoft was recently upset over the Federal Trade Commission wrapping up an antitrust investigation on Google. On Wednesday, Microsoft’s Vice President Dave Heiner expressed his dissatisfaction over Google not enabling “a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.”
When it comes to the Google Maps issue in question, The Verge noted that although the service was never officially supported for non-Webkit browsers, the Google Maps mobile site was indeed accessible for many Windows Phone users. Considering that, Google’s statement on the issue does not clarify what has been changed that averts the access entirely.