By now you would have all heard that during it’s Winter Cleaning, Google decided to discontinue Exchange Active Sync for free users of its Gmail service. You’ll have already heard the thousands of tech pundits and Windows Phone enthusiasts characterize this move as “Google dropping a EAS shaped bomb on Windows Phone”, and “Google Declaring War on Microsoft”.
It would seem to me that the situation with Google and ActiveSync is a bit more complicated than some people would have you believe. As Kip Kniskern noted in his piece, “Google, Microsoft and the EAS problem” , contrary to popular belief the mail and calendar technology in question is not free and must be paid for, on a per server basis. Following a year in which bystanders have seen the folks in Mountain View more aggressively clean house on other projects (including my beloved Feedburner), this should not come as much of a shock, Google wants to stay lean and by cutting the fat before its too painful they’re able to do just that. I can appreciate their reasoning.
I can also appreciate that there is no native Gmail application on Windows Phone and Windows 8, the latter of which is still in it’s infancy and the former of which has yet to post any big gains in market share. Sure these are my platforms of choice – I’d love to have access to Google’s applications but neither Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 have reached that kind of market penetration yet.
Just one of these situations could create a problem but together they create a perfect storm for users. Users won’t have access to first-party Google applications anytime soon if at all and Google has chosen to make those who won’t professional grade services to pay for it. Neither of those bother me. What does hurt is that Microsoft doesn’t support decent alternatives for their users and I’m willing to bet it’s because by only supporting EAS the company bet that it would be to continue charging providers the licensing fees it’d been charging for years. CardDav and CalDav aren’t new alternatives, though I suppose if you’re on our side of the aisle they are new to you as you’ve been under that EAS umbrellas for years.
“I don’t question why tech companies won’t hold hands and sing old Negro spirituals.”[/one_half] [one_half_last]To me, this isn’t just a story of Google setting out to hamper Windows Phone’s consumer progress, or Microsoft insuring that ActiveSync continues to take in server revenue quarter after quarter. The real question is how quickly can Microsoft continue to implement support of open source standards while insuring a robust licensing market for its own technologies? At a time when Microsoft more than any other company has been working hard to foist HTML5 applications and other reusable code standards that can go with a developer from one platform to the next, why wasn’t their own communication applications built I that same way. In my opinion they did it on purpose, and now they’ll have to explain to millions of Gmail users why they either didn’t have the time or didn’t bother. In my opinion, you got screwed you -but it wasn’t just Google.[/one_half_last]
Truthfully, I don’t question why tech companies won’t hold hands and sing old Negro spirituals, no sane person should. It’s in any company’s best interest to protect any significant revenue stream. I do question why people can’t seem to see what actually happened here. Microsoft attempted to use these new products as a way to ensure a future for EAS. What they hadn’t counted on was an entrenched Android ecosystem that wouldn’t give up with out a fight nor a Google ran by people who would ruin a customer’s Gmail experience to prove a point.