Google Extends Windows Phone ActiveSync Support Through December
Google gave another break to Windows Phone users that synchronize with Google's mail, calendar and contacts services.
Yesterday, Google updated its end-of-life policy for Google Sync, which uses Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol. While ActiveSync support in Google Sync was supposed to have ended on July 31, Google has now extended that support for Windows Phone users "through December 31, 2013."
Essentially, that means that users of Windows Phone that don't have paid Google Apps accounts can still set up new synchronization accounts with Google's services using Google Sync until the end of this year. Those users who do have paid Google Apps accounts still have privileges to create new Google Sync accounts. In addition, previously established Google Sync accounts will continue to run, even though Google will eventually stop supporting ActiveSync in Google Sync.
Google decided to stop supporting ActiveSync because it is moving to the CardDAV open protocol for synchronization. Microsoft, too, had promised to support CardDAV and CalDAV in Windows Phone 8. That support is now available in a newly released update to Windows Phone 8, according to a blog post by Arman Obosyan, a technology strategist at Microsoft.
This new Windows Phone 8 update, described as "GDR2" for "General Distribution Release 2," apparently is being distributed now, depending on the carrier's release schedule. The build numbers for GDR2 are described as "8.0.10327.77 or 8.0.10328.78," according to a report by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley.
The blog post by Obosyan included Microsoft's acknowledgment of the ActiveSync extension. "We've reached an agreement with Google to extend support for new Windows Phone connections to the Google Sync service through December 31, 2013," Microsoft indicated. Obosyan recommended applying the GDR2 update to Windows Phone 8 for those users wanting to continue to sync Google's services.
"Also remind you that Google is planning to drop ActiveSync (EAS) support in gmail, so if you planning to continue to use your gmail account on Windows Phone with Contacts and Calendar sync you should consider to update to GDR2," Obosyan wrote.
An updated Windows Phone blog post by Michael Stroh of Microsoft stated that the CalDAV and CardDAV protocol support, "combined with our existing support for the IMAP protocol for email, will enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after December 31, 2013."
Google's reprieve on ActiveSync support until Dec. 31, 2013 only pertains to Windows Phone users. Those wanting to use Google Sync to synchronize services on Windows 8 or Windows RT machines are out of luck unless they are paid Google Apps customers. Google ended ActiveSync support for those Windows machines on Jan. 30, 2013.
Microsoft had initially expressed surprise when Google announced a "winter cleaning" of products that dropped support for Exchange ActiveSync. This sync squabble also confused Windows users after Microsoft updated its Windows 8 and Windows RT Mail, Calendar and People apps in March. Microsoft had issued elaborate instructions for Windows 8 and Windows RT users on how to cope following Google's decision. However, it just isn't possible to sync the Google Calendar app with Microsoft's Calendar app, according to Microsoft's instructions.
While Microsoft is supporting the two open sync protocols on the Windows Phone 8 side, that's reportedly not happening on the Windows 8 and Windows RT side, according to Foley's account. She wrote that "the Windows team announced that it would not add CardDAV or CalDAV support for users who are trying to connect to a Google account via Mail/Calendar/People after Jan. 30, 2013." It's not clear, however, where or when Microsoft announced that decision.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.