wtf-google (1)Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync is awesome. Other than being proprietary, it is certainly superior to IMAP/CalDAV/CardDAV all duct taped together. Well, Google’s busting out the duct tape, they think it’s actually a good idea to ditch EAS for new Gmail users starting February. Why, Google? All in one happy protocol, these are some of the many things that can be done from a server to the email client and its operating system (in addition to push email, calendar, contacts and tasks) with Exchange ActiveSync, both consumer and business-friendly:

  • Address lookup (GAL) and Server Search
  • Remote wipe
  • Flagging
  • Setting vacation/OOF replies
  • Meeting setup and collaboration
  • Bandwidth management
  • Extensive password management
  • Force device encryption
  • Policy enforcement like disabling removable storage, camera, SMS, unsigned things, require manual sync (like when roaming)
  • Some sort of OTA updating
  • Information rights management

wtf-google (2)A bunch more here.

From my understanding, iOS does not support the push part of IMAP (IMAP-IDLE), so that means new Gmail users with iPhones, iPods and iPads after Jan 30 will, unless Apple pushes out some sort of email client update or Google backpeddles, have to revert to the last decade of their phone checking their email in intervals and not hold a constant connection. As for CardDAV, iOS users will need to read and follow all these extra instructions, which many won’t, to set up their Gmail account to fully sync (or sign up for Apple’s App Store and download the Gmail app, a PITA). Snubbing Microsoft at the expense of everybody, including Windows Phone / 8 / RT users which don’t include CalDAV support out of the box. This really screws everyone involved with Windows Phone.  This move has stupid written all over it. Queue the “do no evil” remarks.

On top of this, Google is dropping Google Sync for Nokia and, weirdly, SyncML, a nonproprietary quasi-alternative to ActiveSync that they could have spruced up instead to make it a viable contender to ActiveSync — nope, they’re ditching it. What the hell’s up with that? Oh, you’re spring cleaning, right…

So, Microsoft says they’re “surprised” by this move but I doubt they’re losing any sleep over it given that for many not having ActiveSync is a deal breaker and, guess what, you can always use it on, no problem… Damnit Google, seriously. Oh, and Google, because of this, I’m disabling my Google Web Clips (optional advertisements in my Gmail). So you can run and tell that.

Doug Simmons


  1. I agree, it’s completely infuriating! Googles calendars are far superior to the Live/Outlook web ones, but if I can’t sync more than one (they’ve removed the page to configure which calendars are synced) then it’s value-less to me.

  2. Google is just hurting themselves. If it was already difficult to support Android devices in a corporate IT environment, by dropping Active Sync, they drop remote wipe, vacation/oof replies, policies, meetings, encryption, address book and email server search; all features that are a must for corporate email. If they want to appeal to the corporate market, they are doing the wrong thing.

    • Yes. And while they may be keeping EAS support for Google Apps for Business users, this move has got to give any CTO pause, who’s on the fence on moving to the cloud, about going with Google instead of Microsoft because in many businesses the policy support is quite essential and given this move the perceived odds that Google will do the same to paying customers once the blowback from this move settles down has gone up. Is this personal, is this about money, is this about “openness,” is it for more or less the same reasons that Apple has been trying to excise Google from iOS?

  3. Ironically, Google is well aware of how useful EAS is for MDM. That is why they will continue to use it as the centerpiece for Google Apps for Business.

    So, what does this move mean? They actually believe that the consumerization of IT will drive enterprise adoption of their MDM. That is a nice way of saying that they intend to use their market share to blackmail companies into using Google for MDM. At least that is my take on it.

    This flies in the face of the number one cardinal rule in IT – you don’t mess with Exchange. Employees will most definitely whine when they can no longer connect their new Android device to the company server but that is happening anyway as most companies that I work with use EAS to lock out Android devices.

    Personally, I think its hilarious. EAS made BYOD possible and now Google is trying to use consumerization to become a dominant player in enterprise systems management by using EAS and MAPI. This is a train wreck just waiting to happen. I’m actually looking forward to seeing the carnage that follows.

    • James, I believe you’re looking for Google Feedback or perhaps you could, if someone hasn’t already, fire up a petition on

      I’m hoping Google will backpedal. This isn’t a small nerd issue, we’re talking the ability to use Gmail as people have become to know it (adding accounts easily, push and out-of-the-box calendar and contact support), this is a major issue. Next best thing is that I’m hoping they gave MS and Apple enough of a heads up for them to crank out some sort of update to support these substitute protocols including the IMAP-IDLE feature. Third best thing I’m hoping for, and this isn’t much, is that if they get away with this they are not encouraged to take aim at existing customers and Google Apps users, and the other thing I’m hoping for is that they are working hard on SyncML rather than scrapping it.

      Not to mention it makes relationships with their competitors increasingly adversarial but not in the good way that benefits consumers but in the litigious way that benefits lawyers. As your resident Google fanatic I’m going on record here calling this a dick move on Google’s part. And I don’t like how they did it either, tucking it in in a short snippet in some blog post. Watching a West Wing episode in which the press secretary disposes of embarrassing news stories by reporting them on Friday because Friday, known as take-out-the-trash day, is when no one’s reading the news, and that’s what this feels like. I also hope that those who are saying that this is Google’s signal to everybody that they’re indeed ditching the do-no-evil thing and becoming just another business are wrong. And if they’re right I hope Google knows what they were doing, from a business perspective, when deciding to make this move and with such short notice.

      You don’t have to know what a protocol is or the seven layers of networking to get the idea by now that EAS is hands down the superior protocol with, to many, the only one with the necessary features, and that it’s hard to believe that this could be, even for Google, Google taking a do-good stance against proprietary things, rather that it is personal and retaliatory, which might be okay if it didn’t come at the tangible expense of the good people of the web like you.

  4. And now you understand one of the reasons I said “Google started this shit”, and why I say they seem “chilcish as f*ck”.

    They’re not trying to help end users they’re trying to dissassociate themselves with MS or possibly hoping to come up with alternative “technology” that might keep them out of patent court. All this at the expense of end users. About 90% of which are clueless to the behind closed doors BS that goes on between company’s.
    I haven’t jumped completely off the google train just yet, but these bitches are making it hard not to.

  5. To be fair, it’ll only affect those who sign up for new accounts. I don’t know about y’all, but all of my Gmail and hosted apps accounts (and my yahoo, outlook, and others) all fwd to my primary gmail account which I got on April 1, 2004, and that is the one I read.

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