Last week, there was quite a bit of controversy stirred when various outlets reported that Google was blocking Maps from Windows 8 phones. Google then released the following statement in response: "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."
Any Windows 8 phones attempting to navigate to the web version of Google Maps would be redirected to Google.com, meaning that Windows 8 users would be stuck with Microsoft's Bing Maps.
Now it turns out that the mobile web version of Google Maps could have been on new Windows 8 phones all along. Google just made the decision to redirect Windows phones to the Google homepage due to lacking performance on older phones.
Google's now decided to remove the redirect for Internet Explorer on Windows phones, and released the following statement in regards to the issue: "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."
According to The Next Web, users with Windows phones previously had access to Google Maps. It's not clear why Google recently decided to remove Maps functionality for IE. Though Google states that it was purely a product decision, it's possible that Google may have done so simply because Microsoft is a competitor.