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Google Fixes Bug in Sync App for Outlook

Google came through with fixes to its newly introduced e-mail and calendar synchronization application that works with Microsoft Outlook.

The new synchronization app is called Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. It provides a way for users to keep their familiar Microsoft user interface for e-mail and calendar functions while bypassing Microsoft Exchange Server. Instead, users connect with Google's Gmail servers in the Internet cloud.

Google's enterprise blog announced on Tuesday that Windows Desktop Search now works with its sync app. Outlook's native search function wasn't patched because it worked before. The fix applies to just Windows Desktop Search, which is an optional plug-in tool for Outlook and other applications.

Google also bolstered its support for the Microsoft Outlook Connector plug-in, which helps users access Windows Live Hotmail. Additionally, Google improved the synchronization of notes in Outlook's contacts function. It also patched some installation issues.

Users will get the patch through the latest version of Google's sync app, which is being delivered to Google's customers via automated update.

The debut of Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook caused controversy because of its potential as a so-called "Exchange killer," with the potential to cut into Microsoft's mail server business. Shortly after it was announced, Microsoft publicized a problem with using Windows Desktop Search with Google's sync app.

Since that time, a Microsoft blog has reported a number of missing functions that users can experience when using Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, including synchronization problems with certain features in Outlook. However, Google spokesperson Andrew Kovacs suggested that the user experience will not be exactly the same when using Google's sync application with Outlook.

"There's no question that the experience is not the same with Microsoft Outlook," Kovacs said. "Absolutely, there are some features that don't work perfectly yet, and we are working on them."

A Gartner analysis explained that the use of different protocols was responsible for some of the differences, stating that "Outlook does work against [Google's] Gmail, but via the IMAP protocol, which does not support a variety of functions, including calendar." Kovacs explained that Google's sync app uses the MAPI protocol, which is "much faster than IMAP and we integrate really well with Outlook's calendar."

Google's Gmail service doesn't provide the option of using a mail server on the customer's premises. While the lack of such an option might not seem assuring for some enterprise customers, Kovacs claimed that Google's security approach offers "a lot of advantages." He said that Google conceived of its Gmail service as something that would be "most valued within larger enterprises." He cited Google's current Gmail customers Genentech and Avago Technologies as examples.

Google also announced a "resources site" with a few more details about its hosted e-mail service, which is called "Google Apps Premier Edition." Google is promising a 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement with the service. Kovacs added that Google also provides 24x7 support as part of the service.

Google's service uses an automatic update service to deliver the latest versions of the software to customers. However, IT has the option to control the delivery of software upgrades and review them beforehand, Kovacs explained.

Google offers its hosted e-mail service both online via subscription and through its channel partners. The partners typically charge for value-added support that organizations may want, such as training, Kovacs said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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