Google drops Exchange ActiveSync. What does it mean for Windows Phone? [Updated]

Starting February 1st 2013, Windows Phone users won't be able to create full Gmail accounts on Windows Phone. Does Microsoft have a plan?

This afternoon Google has announced the discontinuation of their support of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS aka the standard for many who use email) after January 30th 2013. The question you may be wondering is, how does it affect Windows Phone?

Surprisingly, the answer is it shouldn't have any discernable impact for the majority of you who rely on Gmail for syncing of contacts and calendar. When a user initially sets up a Gmail account on Windows Phone, you are given two choices:

  1. Email Only – Uses POP IMAP (Updated)
  2. Email, Contacts and Calendar – Uses IMAP EAS (Updated)

Neither of those should change in anyway for users who opt for the “walk through” method on Windows Phone, which we venture to guess, is the majority.

[Update Rafael Rivera has done some sniffing and turns out there could be some trouble. The 'email only' option uses IMAP, not POP as previously thought while the 'email, contacts and calendar' function is EAS supported. That means when Google flips the switch in January, you will no longer be able to setup a GMail account using the second method.]

Some of you though choose to the “Advanced Setup” near the bottom of the new account screen. There is where users can currently setup Gmail using Google Sync aka Google’s ActiveSync solution. That feature is going away after January 30th for non-Google Apps subscribers. However, if you currently have that setup and are using it, the service will continue to work for you with nothing changing. Only new requests for GoogleSync will be rejected after January 30th.

But...why Google, why?

So why is Google getting rid of one of the most widely used (and often preferred) email syncing technologies? They don’t give specific reasons, but instead couch it in a “winter cleaning” metaphor--whatever that means. But the real reason we suspect is Google is taking a fight to Microsoft by pulling support for EAS, directly off-loading any potential users who prefer Microsoft's system instead.

Android will continue to rock "the best Gmail experience" in mobile while Apple's iPhone and iPad already use Google's new preferred system, leaving Microsoft left holding the bag with EAS support. While we don't think it will have a direct impact on Windows Phone, it's clear that Google is kicking some sand at Microsoft with this move. (Incidentally, Paul Thurrott agrees with this assessment, stating flatly that Google is "declaring war" on Microsoft with this change).

It's evident Google is focused on using their IMAP system, which is very unique in the syncing world as far as standards go. The reason they are probably doing it is so they can continue to alter that system to give the full Gmail experience, something for which EAS cannot do (plus there is also the matter of paying Microsoft to license EAS). In other words, Google likes IMAP for their email and they have now embraced cardDAV for calendar syncing, something that Windows Phone doesn’t support (but the iPhone does).

Google of course can do whatever they want for whatever reasons they want but in the end, we still recommend you move your stuff to Outlook.com and get away from their services if at all possible. You’ll thank us later.

Source: Google 1, 2


Reader comments

Google drops Exchange ActiveSync. What does it mean for Windows Phone? [Updated]


Payback time for all the shit MS has been saying about Google lately. 
Next step would be for MS to support all open standards (cal and cardDEV) that pretty much every modern device uses. Heck even Meego had that.


Wasn't it Google who recently said that "WP is not where the users are"? And then they pull this move. Contradict much? Google sux balls. Switching over to Outlook.com 4 good now. Won't be looking back.

I ditched Gmail at WP7 time itself. Outlook is far far better in handling newsletters. Only place I use Google.account is chrome and YouTube. Day IE has sync capabilities, I LL ditch that too.....maybe.....

I'm sure Microsoft can kick the sand right back at Google and I hope they do, Google are slowly becoming evil and it could hit then hard in the future, I use gmail but think ill switch now.

To be fair im sick to death of MS, Apple and Google, they all think of themselves and fuck the user off, even though they make billions a year off us all!

I closed gmail/spymail last month, I dont need their Services any more. Live Platform is long way better and faster :)

Switched from Google to Hotmail few weeks ago. Who needs them anyway if your using Windows Phone. Sell your overrated Google stock they are headed on the same path of Yahoo.

im in the process of slowly migrating my gmail to my outlook mail.  It will take time all my key accounts use i use gmail--banking, personal family, lawyers etc....  forwarding will help the transition....

Don't be evil, huh mr. Google?! At least MS makes some innocuous tongue in cheek videos, while you Mr. Google everything goes. Don't be evil, my a#%.

Thank God I have ditched all google services besides YouTube, to which if there was an alternative I would also use. Google can suck nuts and eat shit for all I care.

Sadly, this is the conclusion I have come to as well. I have been using Gmail since it first hit beta status. However, I have taken a great amount of time to research what data Google collects. They collect data from EVERYTHING, Google Talk, Android, Gmail, Google Drive, Chrome, Google+, Google Hangouts, etc... It is pretty sickening how much they know about me just based on my emails and chats. I am migrating anything I can to dedicated services.

The bit that worries me about this is that I use Google Apps (the free one) so that I can send email properly from my custom domain. Not many other providers have such a nice implementation as google. Does anyone know if the free Google Apps for Business users will get to keep Exchange support?

And more importantly, is this a snide move from Google to make this effect people quicker than it usually would, given we are all more than likely due to update our phones to 7.8 not long after this chage is implemented, breaking our current Exchange connections.....?!

Google Apps Standard users (the free ones) will be losing EAS support as well. See my comment Here for instructions on moving to Live Domains.

This reminds me of the same reason Google doesn't have any API integrations. You can't cross sync to Twitter, Facebook, Live, LinkIn, etc. And any app created basically just puts the mobile page into a shell. I personally try not to use any Google product, I search with Bing, email with Hotmail, social network with Twitter and Facebook. I only have a gmail account because a job I applied for required it and only have Google+ because my mother-in-law doesn't want to use Facebook.

I don't get why Microsoft is giving them smartglass and soon Microsoft office for android, maybe they shouldn't, not sure anymore

They're doing it because being more open is taking the high road. They WANT people to use their products, not restrict people. Being open is a good thing. By only making smartglass available only to WinPhone, it becomes a niche app. By making it more open, they still keep a large audience. Afterall, XBox is still the number 1 gaming platform, and subscriptions are a decent source of income for them.
Google suddenly cutting the cord is similar to Apple's campaign to wall-off their systems, and it can come back to bite them in the ass as more and more computers start adopting Windows 8.

Google is a cancer to the internet. Invading half of our displays and bombarding it with crap advertisements. I wonder how many people got their system infected with virus/ malware through google ads/search results. The sooner it goes bust the better .

I just read the referenced Paul Thurrott article. That piece aligns with my suspicions on the motivations for this. The next step will be Google breaking the API to their services so 3rd party apps won't be an option.

From Google's perspective, I can see them looking at this as win-win. If it kills or severely cripples a potent, upcoming competitor in their space - win. If that doesn't pan out, they eventually relent and sweep in with their own apps and wipe out the 3rd parties. After all, they believe they hold a good hand because of the number of people using the Google search, email, calendar, social, voice, etc services, and most won't go through the hassle of finding alternative services, and will defer to a phone platform that makes it easy on them.

I'm a WP 920 user, and vastly enjoy it. But, objectively, I can imagine how this could play out.