Microsoft started repackaging popular mobile websites into Windows Phone apps earlier this week, but it appears some of the companies involved weren't aware of the effort. The software giant has now removed three of the apps: Southwest, Cars.com, and Atari Arcade. It's not clear whether all three will return at some point, but at least one of the removals was related to a complaint from the content owner.
"We have been in communication with Microsoft but have not given them approval to push our content," says a Southwest spokesperson in a statement to Neowin. "After realizing our discussions are still early, Microsoft removed our content from the store." One of the apps that has been removed, Atari Arcade, was related to a collaboration between Atari and Microsoft to bring classic games to the web for Internet Explorer. We've reached out to Atari to clarify whether it was aware of the app given its work with Microsoft and why it has been removed.
Do these apps violate Microsoft's own policies?
Some Windows Phone developers have also raised concerns that Microsoft's repackaged mobile web apps may violate its own policies against apps that do more than just launch a web page or even those that use trademarks without permission. ZDNet notes that these apps are packaged in a way that renders the content within the app, so it's unlikely that they violate the policies. Regardless, these repackaged apps are a late attempt by Microsoft to convince developers to build native versions for its platforms. It appears Microsoft didn't make content owners aware of its own efforts, an unusual move given how official these apps look in the Windows Phone Store. We've reached out to Microsoft for comment on the app removals, and we'll update you accordingly.
Update: Microsoft has provided the following statement explaining its policy about creating "pinnable Web Apps," out of existing mobile sites, arguing that "we don't anticipate many objections," from app creators or users. The company still doesn't explain why content owners aren't made aware of its efforts until after the fact.
"We are helping people access great mobile experiences on Windows Phone by creating pinnable Web Apps that show up in the app list. These are not a replacement for native apps. In most cases we hope that usage of the Web App will encourage the ISV to publish its own native app. Web Apps drive more people to the company’s own website experience, as designed for mobile browsing, so we don’t anticipate many objections. We will move quickly to resolve any takedown requests we receive. Website owners are welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org."