Google Announces The End Of Exchange ActiveSync Support, Leaves Windows Phone Users Out In The Cold

Windows Phone users take note, Google is making some sweeping changes or “Winter Cleaning” as they call it to how they handle Exchange ActiveSync next month and the news isn’t good. Google Apps users will feel less of an impact but future Gmail users will find themselves unable to use the EAS protocol as of January 30th, 2013. This is bad, bad news for Gmail users on Windows Phone and it couldn’t come at a worse time as Microsoft plans yet another large WP8 marketing campaign early next year.

Google emphasizes that the sync features will remain supported for Google Apps account holders who paid for an account. Users who have already set up Sync will continue to be grandfathered in, so this news is more impactful for new users, but it’s just bad news all around.

The news will likely have far less of an impact for iOS users ¬†as Gmail supports IMAP along with Google’s newly refreshed Gmail app. More importantly, Google supports CalDAV for both calendar and contacts, a function supported by Apple but one that Microsoft has chosen not to support in Windows Phone 8 at this time.

As it stands now, Gmail users on Windows Phone have two available ways to sync information. The first is an email only option with the second being an option that supports a combination of email, calendar and contacts. The email-only option sets up like an IMAP connection to Gmail, but doesn’t support push and will sync at best, every 15 minutes. The second option allows for calendar and contact sync using Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) which pushes email, calendars, and contacts to your device. The second solution will stop working as of January 30th for new devices, which leaves Microsoft around 45 days to find a solution, over the holidays no less.

As Google has said they have no plans to build Windows Phone 8 apps, there is little expectation that a dedicated and official Gmail app for Windows Phone is coming anytime soon.

“We are very careful about where we invest and will go where the users are but they are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8,” says Google Apps product management director Clay Bavor.

So what will Microsoft do? They could remove support for Gmail calendar and contact sync on the Windows Phone platform, but they would likely anger many Gmail users who choose to use Windows Phone as their platform of choice. As this news dropped yesterday, many are saying Microsoft should have seen this coming as Google has dropped hints that it would remove EAS soon, but Microsoft didn’t heed the warning signs.

There’s no love between these two company’s as they fight turf wars over search, browsers, mobile, business and with the introduction of Chrome OS, the PC. As Microsoft launched its own anti-Google “Scroogled” attack campaign featuring the”unfair shopping practices” of Google and Bing ads attacking Google search results, there’s plenty of reason to suspect this won’t be worked out in time.

Let’s just call this what it is though, a lose-lose situation for anyone who uses Gmail on Windows Phone. As I perused a number of tech blogs yesterday after this announcement dropped, many Windows Phone users stated they would begin a switch to, an impressive and beautiful email service that isn’t nearly as feature-rich as Gmail and lacks IMAP support. So, while we figure out who is to blame for this loss of functionality, be it Google or Microsoft, Windows Phone users who want Gmail sync with contacts and calendars better start looking at alternative solutions.

The Verge via Google Blogspot

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  • Get_at_Me

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. Google has been very generous in the past. Microsoft decided to get back into the mobile OS game, so they need to stand on their own 2 feet.

    • By your logic, Microsoft should cutoff Google’s Exchange ActiveSync license for Android and let Google “stand on their own 2 feet.” How many people would then be forced to switch off Android because it would no longer sync with their corporate Exchange servers?

      • vrm

        depending on how much “corporations” use exchange, it can be an anti-competitive act. If google is paying for exchange activesync, refusal to license itself is an anti-competitive act.

        • According to a Ferris study, Exchange had a 65% market share across organizations. Far from a monopoly.

        • vrm

          If an entity owns patents or copyright, it has the obligation to license it for fair use under reasonable terms. Do you read the news at all ? Have all the patent lawsuits passed you by ?

          You yourself have said that gmail uses open standards- then what is the problem ? Why should google license proprietary garbage from a shady corporation and THEN do their job for them, spending money twice on something that doesn’t even pertain to their products/technology ? Why cannot m$ platforms support open standards ? why can’t m$ write a client using open standards ?

          Do you work for m$ ? Or are you just a fanboy ?

        • What are you babbling about? Developers are under no requirement to license a technology to anyone. For instance, there are plenty of companies that would love to make a cheap MP3 player that could sync directly to iTunes. However, Apple doesn’t license that technology and cannot be compelled to do so. In fact, when the Palm Pre first arrived it did mimic an iPod, allowing it to sync directly to iTunes. However, Apple quickly blocked that. Palm was unable to force Apple license the ability to sync to iTunes under some guise of fair use. Palm then appealed to the USB standards board, but the whole issue faded away along with Palm themselves.

          Microsoft can indeed add support for the open standards of IMAP Idle, CalDAV, and CardDAV. I believe they will now be forced to in order to support full Gmail sync on their phones and Windows client apps. However, it’s not just Microsoft that has ignored these open standards until now. The default mail, calendar, and contacts apps in Android don’t even support them.

          No, I do not work for Microsoft nor am I a fanboy. I do, however, work in the IT industry and know how corporate IT departments react to devices that don’t conform to their existing infrastructure. They simply tell the users that they won’t work and to get a compatible device. As other commenters have point out, though, the saving grace for Android if Microsoft was to remove their EAS license is third party apps like Touchdown.

          Oh, by the way, you probably shouldn’t go around calling people fanboys in the very same post where you continually use the abbreviation “M$”. It makes you look a little hypocritical.

        • vrm

          itunes is not the same as exchange. m$ HAS to license any entity that wishes to connect to exchange in a corporate network. If they did not have to, they would not be licensing to others ALREADY, esp not to google. Again, no body cares about itunes and it is not critical for any company to license itunes. In fact, android already rules the roost and it has no itunes. If m$ could stop android by withholding licensing, it would have.

          Yes, I do NOT like m$- have been in IT > 25 years. I have seen how stupid and dirty that co. is and has been. Lately, I have begun to dislike apple as well. There are plenty of things that I dislike about google too but what you are ranting about isn’t one of them.

          I am done with trying to explain the facts to someone who refuses to see the truth; you don’t even have to believe me- just read up current news. Read about the patent disputes between m$, apple and google.

        • Please provide documentation to backup your claims that Microsoft is required to license Exchange ActiveSync to anyone that wishes to license it. Then, and only then, I would believe your nonsense.

        • theking_13

          Yogi is right, if you own a patent, you are in no way required to patent or let anyone else else in on your technology.

          If you want to make money off that patent however, then yes, you can license it, but that is definitely not required.

          This is basic economics people, seriously.

        • Ben Voigt

          Mandatory licensing kicks in when a government-mandated standard makes use of a patented method (usually because the patent owner submitted suggested wording of the standard, in order to guarantee they would have a competitive advantage). See “FRAND”.

        • Guest911

          You are wrong. If you think you have a point here, you are nuts as well.

      • vrm

        m$ can also license the use of gmail APIs (if that is even necessary) and develop their own sync mechanism with gmail. Google cannot stop that. Google itself will not do their work for them.

        • Google uses the open standards of IMAP, CalDAV, and CardDAV to allow syncing of their mail, calendar, and contacts; respectively. Microsoft would not need to license them from Google to support syncing of Gmail. However, there is an argument to be made that the open standards of IMAP, CalDAV, and CardDAV simply aren’t as good as Exchange ActiveSync (EAS).

          The original commenter claimed that it is a perfectly acceptable business tactic for Google to disable EAS support. My point was simply that turnaround would be fair play and by his logic Microsoft should refuse to license client side EAS for Android.

          Who do you think would be more adversely affected, Windows Phone if it couldn’t sync with Gmail or Android if it couldn’t sync with Exchanger servers?

  • cirrob

    I can’t stand the Gmail service. It is abysmal compared to an exchange active sync option. I use android both on my phone and tablet venues but on both I have my exchange service set up. Totally worth it to me to spend the 5 bucks a month. The only thing I use Gmail for is spam service. Like signing up to get a discount for something that requires an email address. That said I could not imagine why a windows phone user would care. Especially when they basically get a free exchange service through skydrive.

    • Guest911

      Bingo! Using gmail for work is nuts. You use gmail for random internet crap.

  • GoogleMayNotLast

    Google is starting to go downhill. They are doing things lately that are making them seem shrewd.

    Microsoft has been at the bottom of the hill so this isn’t really bad news for them.

  • MIke

    Looks like some folks will be ditching the GMAIL accounts…why would they stay?…they will just create a Live account or something else that is supported…do you think they will go get a new phone? Are you stupid to think they would?

    • yeah right

      The people saying they are going to ditch gmail obviously have never used gmail for anything more than checking email. The spam filter alone on gmail is light years ahead of

      • ChuckB75

        If you think gmails spam filters are light years ahead of, you haven’t used it in the last, say, 2 years.

        • yeah right

          I tried to use it for 2 months after the redesign. Shit constantly leaked through, ditched it after that.

  • gwhyte01

    take away exchange on all android devices. Lets see how google likes that.

    • They don’t need exchange on Android devices, all they need is CalDAV.

      • David, he means that if Microsoft was to take away Google’s Exchange ActiveSync license for Android, all those Android phones out there wouldn’t be able to sync with corporate Exchange servers. That would do more damage to Android than the loss of Gmail syncing would do to Windows Phone.

        • chris

          But would microsoft want to take out those licenses? Android makes up to 75% world smartphone market. Thats a huge user base that they will lose if they cu t off those licenses. There is more to lose for ms than there is for google if they cut of Android Exchange licenses.

          It’s not like people bought Android because of the exchange sync feature.

        • There are many businesses that would refuse to support Android devices if they don’t support EAS. I’m not saying that Microsoft will (or even should) remove the Android EAS license. I’m just pointing out that it would cause Android greater harm than Windows Phone losing Gmail syncing.

          And, yes, people do buy Android because of the Exchange ActiveSync feature. Not that they go into the store looking for it or that it is some “sexy” feature, but when they are deciding between devices and one of them cannot sync to their work email, they might just choose the other device.

        • chris

          Android is still not a big player in the business market and yet they have 75% market share. So its safe to say that most of those 75% are consumers like you and me.

        • The fact is that bring your own device (BYOD) is a big thing in corporate IT currently. Many consumers need to be able be able to sync their devices to corporate Exchange servers. If the device doesn’t support EAS, the IT department will simply tell them that it can’t be done and they need to get a different device, such as an iPhone, which does support EAS if they want to sync to their corporate mail, contacts, and calendar.

          Look, the idea that Microsoft would take away Android’s EAS license is purely hypothetical and almost certainly won’t happen. My point is simply, if somehow it did happen, it would cause problems for Google. More problems than removing EAS support from Gmail will cause Microsoft. Especially since Microsoft can fix Gmail sync by simply implementing the open standards of CalDAV and CardDAV to go along with their already implemented IMAP support.

        • mattcat03

          On the contrary, yes Android user like myself need and not just want exchange on their devices for company emails. Otherwise, I would drop Android like a hot potato (as much as I love it since the beginning with my G1) if Microsoft took away the exchange feature. I think Google is making a mistake on this one unless they have something up their sleeves that can replace this feature.

        • Ah, I got it…well then yes, but then we’re right back where we started…the customer loses.

        • Jesse James

          thats the problem with this war between Microsoft/Apple/Google…. The harsher it gets the more the customer loses. Like when google maps was taken away from iOS. While thankfully its back (…and I’m an android fanboy) it wasn’t fair to apple users.

          Rodney King said it best, can’t we all just get along?

          No in the end we lose, Instead of playing nice they rather have the “there can only be one” mentality

        • WW

          I was under the impression that Apple kicked Google Maps out.

        • Jesse James

          i think it was apple’s fault too. but whoevers fault it is doesn’t matter. What matters is it hurt the consumers over a childish OS war

        • live2ski

          Even if they remove the eas license for Google, there are other apps which people can use like touchdown. It just wouldn’t be supported natively.

        • Brian Richards

          Touchdown is still out there. Plus I think Microsoft would have a lawsuit on it’s hand if it maliciously pulled someone’s license in an effort to stifle competition. If they pulled licenses from everyone, then they could get away with it, but small businesses would not all suddenly start buying WP. They would abandon Exchange for email first, or even just try imap.

        • BigMixxx

          Not real sure on the EAS thing with open Exchange servers on the open internet. I think a lot of companies are using those third party apps like good or touchdown to push messages over. BYOD in the workplace is gaining a lot of momentum….

        • BigMixxx

          PLUS licensing fees are REAL high as android growth continues….

        • Zombie Killer

          Why? Non-MS customers don’t use MS’s crippled email service. Actual email users not using gmail use IMAP protocol.

        • “MS’s crippled email service”? You’ve got to be kidding me. Firstly, the Exchange ActiveSync protocol is light-years ahead of IMAP. Secondly, if you think that most corporate email is run on IMAP, you are simply wrong.

  • WP users better bundle up!

  • srr79

    As a WP 8X user, and former Android user, this is not bad news or a lose lose for Windows Phone users. Yeah it sucks for those who are dead set on using their GMail account but you can always set up a Live account (required anyway on WP) and forward emails from GMail to Live until you get your new email address out to friends and family. You can also simply export your contacts and calendar from GMail to a file on your PC and then import them into your Live account and you will never have any issues again! Good riddance Google!!!

    • blah

      But online user interface of the MS application is horrible in comparison with google. That’s what it is about.

  • SwitchedFromGoogle

    I switched over to a long time ago when I still had my nexus one. Between google parsing through my email content to advertise to me and my dislike of the interface I switched and never looked back. is easy to use, integrates with my personal and work calendar and skydrive lets me sync content across my computers, tablet, phone, etc. For those considering switching from gmail, it was real easy to get the info from gmail to my computer and then onto my other devices. For some embedded into the g-universe this transition may be difficult, but I could not be happier :)

  • GinaDee

    Google may sense MS as a future threat and they are playing dirtily; just like Apple does.

    Their announcement that “nobody uses WP,” seems a bit pre-emptive and desperate. I like Google but I don’t like the way they are acting in this regard.

    • loopyduck

      …or maybe they don’t want to keep paying Microsoft money? The reason Google licensed EAS in the first place is because iPhones don’t support IMAP Idle. Therefore, no way to push notifications about mail as they come in. iPhones do support Exchange (which enables push), so Google went that route. Now that they have a fairly decent iOS app for GMail, there’s no reason for them to continue paying for more and more (Google won’t cut off anybody currently using it) licenses.

  • Brian Richards

    Is it really a huge number affected by this? My guess is they are pulling this because the number of users actually doing it pales in comparison to the support costs on their end. Google WANTS people to access their stuff.

  • loopyduck

    This would be a non-issue if Windows Phone supported IMAP Idle, CardDAV, and CalDAV, all of these being open protocols.

    • These open protocols aren’t very well supported in general, not just by Windows Phone. In fact, the default mail, contacts, and calendar apps in Android don’t even support IMAP Idle, CardDAV, and CalDAV. That being said, I hope Microsoft does add support for the protocols into both Windows Phone and the default apps in Windows 8.

  • The Architect

    From an former windows phone user, another small reason among many not to consider a windows phone as an everyday driver! lol! XD

  • Peter

    It is a very dumb move from Google but I opened email today and moved everything there and closed and deleted my Gmail.
    Best move I could do and cant be happier. Actually I really like my new email. It is super fast, stylish and support all standards and lots of cool new features.
    Gmail was last thing I had from Google and this move from them just push the trigger for me and I am officially Google free.
    You guys should try it and move to too. you will thank me later!

  • Dave the other Dave

    who cares? You make it sound like I wont be able to access my YouTube account picasa google voice or GMAIL account on my 8X.

  • windows7.5user

    I will just my delete my fucking gmail account then… Stuck up google pricks…. Htc radsr for life4

  • mrteamriab

    I’m confused about how this will affect a gmail account I have set up on my Android phone using the built-in

    Basically, I have a gmail account set up in through Exchange. I did it this way because I find the Exchange protocol is much more reliable/timely in terms of push notifications versus IMAP.

    Will Google’s policy change remove the ability for me to use my gmail account and the Exchange setup in

  • AM3RIG

    i have ZERO compliant nor anger. I never using MSFT EAS on BB and Android phone. EAS is useless!

  • Zombie Killer

    Yep, bad bad news for all FOUR of MS’s customers…. no worry for all the billions of not-MS’s customers.