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Google drops Exchange ActiveSync support on free Gmail

Google ditched Microsoft ActiveSync in favor of its own Google Sync based on open protocols.

Google stirred up a veritable tempest in a teapot in mid-December by discontinuing support for a key synchronization...

protocol -- Exchange ActiveSync, which it licenses from Microsoft.

But the move is expected to have few long-term effects, particularly for Microsoft Exchange users, said Michael Van Horenbeeck, technology consultant for medical device maker Xylos Corp. in Belgium.

It may even work in Microsoft's favor.

There might be a fair chance of Google shooting itself in the foot by dropping EAS.

Michel de Rooji,
unified communications consultant

"At best, they'll get people moving from Gmail to Outlook, because users lose functionality they've come to rely on," Van Horenbeeck said.

Google announced on its official blog that after January 30, 2013, it will no longer support creation of new device sync accounts for its free Gmail and other services based on Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) protocol, which the search giant refers to as "Google Sync." That means it will stop supporting Google Sync connections between its free Gmail or free Google Apps and new devices, which could have some impact in some bring-your-own-device scenarios.

However, EAS will continue to be fully supported for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education. Users of those non-free products are unaffected by the announcement. Additionally, Google-synced devices that are already connected via EAS will continue to function.

In place of EAS, Google is fielding its own Google Sync based on open protocols.

"Google Sync was designed to allow access to Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts via the Microsoft EAS protocol," said Venkat Panchapakesan, Google vice president of engineering, said in a blog. "Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols," he said.

In response, Microsoft tried to use the change as bait to attract Gmail users away from Google and onto its own free email and scheduling system.

"It means that many people currently using Gmail for free are facing a situation where they might have to degrade their mobile email experience by downgrading to an older protocol that doesn't sync your calendar or contacts, doesn't give you direct push of new email messages, and doesn't have all the benefits of Exchange ActiveSync," said Dharmesh Mehta, Microsoft senior director of product management, in a blog post this week.

Users are not overly concerned, but find the move irritating.

"While I do understand Google's case, which is probably more a cost reduction and resource focus shift measure rather than another act in the Google versus Microsoft war, I also believe there might be a fair chance of Google shooting itself in the foot by dropping EAS," said Michel de Rooij, a unified communications consultant in the Netherlands. "It gets annoying when vendors drop functionality end users are accustomed to, making them have to put energy into looking at solutions or alternatives, which may become tiresome at some point," he said.

In the longer term, given that the affected accounts are free to the public, the impact on IT shops will be minimal, according to one observer. "It looks bad when Google is using a competitor's product ... but it's really a lot about nothing," said Wes Miller, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft, an independent analyst firm in Kirkland, Wash.

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Does your organization use ActiveSync as part of its mobile computing strategy? If so, how will Google's decision to drop Gmail support affect that?
horrible move!
stupid on googles part
This will force our users, that have their own phone setup to use Activesync to get their Exchange mail, to switch away from Gmail and use another email app that does support Activesync. We are already aware a a few that do a nice job, but there is a cost for the apps.
It just makes Google an even less relevant partner as it already was for us. We had a look at their search appliance but they simply don't understand business requirements and much worse, they don't really care. They're after consumers, advertizers and everything that might help them there. We'd never partner with such a dubious company nor would we recommend anyone doing it. I personally would also encourage everyone not using them for private either and this move only makes this advice mor true. I don't use Google for anything but search and even there find alternatives more and more equivalent in function but more trustworty in neutrality of results.
Bad Move
dropping support for a such major platform is inexcusable.
No Activesync - we'll have to move to Microsoft then.
No way for GoogleMail with this anouncement
not sure how this supports the BYOD strategy that is pervasive with mobiles in the enterprise. if anything it regresses current options.
As a technology consultant using MS Exchange and other Email technologies like GMail, they are forcing me to seriously think about moving entirely off of GMAIL and onto a more friendly platform. First off, I've always found using GMAIL on the web a bit unintuitive... Oh well... It appears that Google is starting to follow in Microsofts Foot steps regarding getting too big, trying to be everything to all, and losing touch with the consumer. My two cents....
google should not play games which suffers users let actssyn be there one should not force to use only ther product
I think it's bad move from G.
As most of our customers using business google apps pay for this service, I don't think it will have any consequence. But, If I were a free user, I'd consider moving to another provider.
We may not be able to get back to the status quo ante, and even if we can we will have to expend effort on doing so.
It's a bad news for sales people who use EAS as a useful tool for servicing customer and updating information !!
Bad move for Google!
Might hurt in the short run, but improved device *DAV integration will benefit everyone in the long run.
Google is paving the way for others to drop the proprietary protocols (EAS) and use open protocols instead, such as IMAP-based protocols that are standard for email synchronization.
This will remove the possibility if I-devices in our BYOD strategy, which has always been good good for my technological stance, but this makes the conversation easy for me when I have to explain the decision. 6000+ devices ought to bite hard into this decision by google
Google is really beginning to lose their 'coolness factor' with their latest round of decisions. Dropping EAS support is just one more example. Might be time to give MS another look with their 365 services.