Google's decision to drop Exchange ActiveSync support, a protocol used to sync Gmail calendar, contacts, and mail items on mobile devices, left Microsoft surprised and disappointed. The change means new Windows Phone users after January 30th with personal Gmail accounts will be unable to sync calendar and contact items. The Verge has learned that Microsoft is planning to support CardDAV and CalDAV in Windows Phone, Google's new preferred route to sync contacts and calendars. The software giant has not yet issued a public statement on its plans, but sources at Microsoft have detailed an eyeopening path that has led to the decision. In exchanges that underline the tensions between Microsoft and Google, we understand that Microsoft was fully anticipating Google's announcement.
A tale of two stubborn software giants
Sources say Google privately informed Microsoft late last summer that it planned to drop support for Exchange ActiveSync, during a time that Microsoft was finalizing its Windows Phone 8 software with operator trials for devices due in October. Windows Phone 8 does not include support the CalDAV or CardDAV protocols and an engineering change would have delayed the release of devices for the holiday season. We understand that Google didn't provide a timeframe for its plans to kill the Sync service which utilizes Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol.
Google publicly announced its plans in mid-December to discontinue support for Exchange ActiveSync with free Gmail accounts on January 30th. The announcement provided Microsoft with around 45 days to implement the necessary CalDAV and CardDAV support to ensure future Windows Phone Gmail users wouldn't experience difficulties syncing calendar and contacts. Google's timing was just ahead of the holidays at a time when Redmond's engineering teams typically start to leave to spend time with their families over the festive period, leaving Microsoft to scramble for a solution.
Microsoft begs Google for an Exchange ActiveSync extension
Curious timing aside, we're told that Microsoft has been attempting to convince Google to extend its cutoff date by six months to allow the company to push an update out for CalDAV and CardDAV support and to ensure mutual Windows Phone users who use Gmail remain unaffected. We understand that Google has been largely unresponsive to Microsoft's requests for information on how the changes will affect users and a possible extension. The situation means Microsoft is unsure exactly how Gmail accounts will operate after the cutoff.
Google will remove the support on January 30th, leaving new Windows Phone users with only IMAP email support natively for Gmail, with the calendar and contact sync options non-functional. We have reached out to Google to comment on whether it plans to accept Microsoft's request for an extension and we'll update you accordingly.
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