If we’re being honest, Google has been sticking it to Windows Phone ever since the beginning – they’ve never been big on making proper apps for Google services for the platform, and they’ve recently asserted that that’s not going to change anytime soon in the Windows 8 era, citing a lack of users.
But, this is taking it to a new level. As part of a “Winter cleaning” announcement, Google has indicated that they’re stripping support for one of the few Microsoft-friendly services that actually did exist. The company has pulled support for Google Sync, which was used to sync mobile devices with Google’s email servers using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Well, they didn’t exactly pull support completely – we’ll get to that later.
Windows 8 devices and Windows Phone 8 devices all use Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) to sync devices with free Gmail accounts, contacts, and calendar information. Once Google drops support for EAS on January 30 of next year, you won’t be able to sync new devices to free Google accounts using EAS. Instead, you’ll need to sync those new Windows 8 devices with free Google services using IMAP, which doesn’t fully support push notifications for email. You won’t be able to sync calendar and contacts at all.
If you already have a Windows 8 device and have already set up your Google account with Mail or Calendar, you shouldn’t be concerned. But, that brings us to the most disappointing part of this announcement.
Google isn’t exactly dropping support for EAS. Existing users can still use it, and paid Google Apps users (think business, government, education) will be unaffected. That leaves this as Google stripping away services from their free account users. It’s hard to nail down exactly what Google’s reasoning is here, but if you choose to interpret it as punishment dealt to those with the nerve to purchase a Windows 8 product, you couldn’t be blamed. Google passing the announcement off as “Winter cleaning” and trotting out the favored claim of the tech industry these days – doing it to provide the best possible user experience – is particularly galling.
I’d love to see a detailed explanation of how stripping services away from a select group of your own customers improves anything for anyone.