Google extends Exchange ActiveSync support for Windows Phone through July

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After announcing it would halt consumer support for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange ActiveSync protocol on Jan. 30, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) said Wednesday it will extend the cutoff date to July 31, enabling mobile users to continue accessing the full range of Gmail messaging services on their Microsoft-powered smartphones. In addition, Microsoft confirmed it is integrating support for Google's new sync protocols into the Windows Phone platform, guaranteeing a seamless user experience moving forward.

Late last year, Google publicly announced plans to terminate support for Exchange ActiveSync at the end of January, effectively giving Microsoft roughly 45 days to implement its new CardDAV and CalDAV calendar and contact syncing protocols. Sources told The Verge that Google privately informed Microsoft of its decision to dump Exchange ActiveSync support last summer during the period when Microsoft was finalizing Windows Phone 8, adding that Google did not specify a timetable. Because making the engineering changes necessary to support CardDAV and CalDAV would have delayed the release of Windows Phone 8 until after the lucrative holiday shopping season, Microsoft decided to roll out the OS without CardDAV and CalDAV integration.

While Microsoft knew of Google's plans, The Verge states the Jan. 30 cutoff caught Microsoft by surprise, forcing Microsoft to scramble to implement a fix. Google initially rejected Microsoft's requests to extend Exchange ActiveSync support for another six months, but on Wednesday, a Google spokesperson said the company will "start rolling out this change as planned across all platforms, but will continue to support Google Sync for Windows Phone until July 31, 2013." Had Google not relented, Windows Phone device owners would be left with only IMAP email support for Gmail, rendering calendar and contact sync options non-functional.

Microsoft confirmed Google's change of heart on its Windows Phone blog. "At the same time, the Windows Phone team is building support into our software for the new sync protocols Google is using for calendar and contacts--CalDAV and CardDAV," wrote Microsoft editor Michael Stroh. "These new protocols, combined with our existing support for the IMAP protocol for email, will enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after July 31, 2013.

The decision to extend Exchange ActiveSync support follows a few weeks after a Microsoft legal representative alleged Google is deliberately stifling Microsoft's efforts to build a full-featured YouTube video application optimized for Windows Phone by refusing to license the necessary coding information. Google also implemented a redirect preventing Windows Phone owners from accessing the Google Maps site via Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, but it removed the redirect a week later.

For more:
- read this Verge article
- read this Windows Phone Blog entry

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