Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 update brings support for Gmail sync protocols

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has begun rolling out a new Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system update incorporating support for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) CardDAV and CalDAV calendar and contact syncing protocols, enabling WP8 users to access the full range of Gmail messaging and scheduling services on their smartphones.

Microsoft announced the Windows Phone 8 General Distribution Release 2 update last week but did not disclose the addition of support for CardDAV and CalDAV at that time. The move was expected, however: Late last year, Google announced plans to terminate support for Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol at the end of January, giving Microsoft roughly 45 days to implement CardDAV and CalDAV support. Google later extended the cutoff deadline to July 31: Had the company not relented, Windows Phone device owners would have been left with only IMAP email support for Gmail, rendering calendar and contact sync options non-functional.

Windows Phone 8 GDR2 is a relatively minor update, highlighted by the restoration of FM radio support--a longtime Windows Phone OS feature dropped with the late 2012 launch of WP8--as well as Xbox Music improvements to provide more accurate metadata. GDR2 also touts a Data Sense app tracking service and stability improvements to services like Internet Explorer and Skype. Owners of unlocked HTC 8X and Samsung Ativ S Windows Phone handsets began receiving the update late Thursday/early Friday, The Verge reports.

Insiders told The Verge Microsoft is currently at work on a significant Windows Phone 8 update that would add a notification center, enhanced multitasking and improvements to built-in applications. Sources familiar with Microsoft's roadmap indicate the so-called "Windows Phone Blue" update is expected in early 2014, but note the company could back-port some features including a rotation lock option to later this year. Any ported features would support hardware shipping within 2013 and would likely arrive at the request of manufacturing partners like Nokia (NYSE:NOK).

Microsoft plans to support Windows Phone 8 through mid-2014. Earlier this year, Microsoft Senior Marketing Manager Greg Sullivan told PCMag.com that WP8 smartphone owners will be able to update their devices to future versions of the OS, avoiding the fate that befell previous Windows Phone users that were unable to upgrade fully to the WP8 platform.

Microsoft reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, posting quarterly revenues of $18.1 billion, far below consensus analyst estimates of $20.7 billion. Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division nevertheless reported a revenue increase of $134 million, credited primarily to mobile: Windows Phone revenues grew $222 million over the year-ago quarter, thanks largely to patent licensing revenue and sales of Windows Phone licenses, although gains were offset by declines in Xbox gaming platform revenues.

For more:
- read this Verge article
- read this release

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