Weekend discussion: Is Google blocking Google Maps in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone devices?

Google Maps

Rumors have been floating around about Google blocking Windows Phone users from accessing Google Maps via Internet Explorer. Google responded by stating that the mobile version of Google Maps was built for Webkit browsers, therefore, will not work on Internet Explorer. Microsoft, on the other hand, issued a contradicting statement.

"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," Google stated. Rumors suggested that Google only recently began blocking Google Maps in Internet Explorer on Windows Phones, due to the fact that Google Maps was working fine on desktops running Internet Explorer.

"Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 use the same rendering engine," Microsoft stated in response to Google's statement about Google Maps only working on Webkit browsers. For those on a Windows Phone, try visiting http://maps.google.com/ using Internet Explorer.

Now check this out. One Windows Phone developer decided to "misspell" Windows Phone in an app to see if Google Maps would load, and guess what, it does load. Does this prove that Google Maps is blocked on Windows Phone? (see video below)

Microsoft and Google have been going at it for a while now. During this past holiday season, Microsoft launched a campaign called Scroogled, which was intended to bring back "honest search." Microsoft believed that shoppers who use Google for their shopping searchers were getting "Scroogled" and being shown advertisements rather than what they really want to see. Microsoft's Scroogled campaign highlighted why Bing was the better option for search rather than Google. Just recently, Microsoft and Google went back and forth over a full-fledged YouTube app for the Windows Phone and how Google is preventing that from happening. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently investigated Google for possible improper business practices and found some issues that needed to be resolved, including issues involving patent lawsuits. Google agreed to a settlement and promised to change its ways but Microsoft wasn't too happy about the results.

So who is right? Is Google screwing over Microsoft yet again in this ongoing battle between the two companies or is this all just a big misunderstanding? If Internet Explorer is the same on Windows Phone as it is on Windows 8, why would Google Maps not work on Windows Phone? Is Google doing this on purpose?

Update: Google has issued a statement admitting that Google Maps was blocked on Windows Phone and they plan on restoring the feature:

We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.

In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.

Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.

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