Google Dropping Some Support for Exchange ActiveSync
Google announced late last week that is getting rid of some features in its software-as-a-service applications that are associated with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.
Google uses Exchange ActiveSync as part of its Google Sync service, which synchronizes services such as Google Calendar, Contacts and Gmail. On Friday, Google announced in a blog post that there will be an "end of life" for Google Sync, but only nonpaying consumer users will be affected directly. On Jan. 30, 2013, those users won't have the ability to set up new devices with the Google Sync service, although existing services dependent on Google Sync will continue to work.
Other users, such as those who pay for Google Apps for Government, Education and Business, will continue to have full support with the Google Sync service.
On Monday, Microsoft reacted to Google's announcement, claiming that mobile Gmail users will have a degraded experience without Exchange Active Sync. Microsoft's offered some advice for these Gmail users. Namely, they can divert their Gmail traffic flow through Microsoft's Outlook.com e-mail service. The advice is outlined in this Microsoft blog post.
Google appears to be moving toward using a combination of technologies instead of using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. The impetus appears to be the open protocol, CardDAV, according to Google's blog post.
"With the recent launch of CardDAV, Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols," the blog explained.
Consumers will see the Google Calendar Sync download link disappear on Dec. 14, 2012. They can use the service if they already have it, but it won't be supported by Google, starting on that December 14 date.
Nokia smartphone users also are affected. Those using Google Sync for Nokia S60 smartphones won't have support from Google for that service starting on Jan. 30, 2013. The SyncML service used with older Nokia and Ericsson smartphones will stop working on Jan. 30, 2013.
Some Google Calendar features will disappear on Jan. 4, 2013, such as the ability to set "new reservable times." The current "appointment slots" feature will work for one year. "Smart reschedule" and "add gadget by URL" are going away. Those gritty details, and a few more, are described in Google's blog post.
Google described these changes as a "winter cleaning" to make more beautiful software products. Coincidentally, Google is reducing its exposure to Microsoft technologies in the process.
ActiveSync has played a small role in the ongoing mobile platform wars between Google and Microsoft, in which Microsoft has made intellectual property claims on the use of the Android mobile operating system by hardware manufacturers. For instance, in May, the U.S. International Trade Commission barred the import of some Motorola Android-based mobile devices that were found to have infringed Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync intellectual property. Google now owns Motorola Mobility, having finalized its acquisition of the company in May with the aim of building a portfolio of patents to better protect Android, which Google helped to develop.
However, Google's stated reason for dropping the Exchange ActiveSync support was all about product improvement. The company does decide at times to drop support for Microsoft's products. For instance, Google's support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 to run Google Apps was dropped on November 15 following Microsoft's launch of Internet Explorer 10 in October. A company spokesperson also recently told V3.co.uk that it doesn't plan to build Google applications, such as Gmail and Google Drive, for Windows 8
Earlier this month, Google announced a decision to eliminate its free Google Apps suite for business users. Instead, on Dec. 6, 2012, one edition of Google Apps for Business is now offered, which is priced at $50 per user per year.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.