Adding Chrome, Gmail, and other Google services to Windows 8

Adding Chrome, Gmail, and other Google services to Windows 8

Summary: Microsoft and Google might be archrivals in business, but you don't have to get caught in the crossfire. Google is making excellent progress in its quest to add Windows 8 (Metro) support to Chrome. And Microsoft's flagship Windows 8 apps connect well with Gmail and other Google services. Here's how to get everything to work together.

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A lot of people use Google services for their email, calendar, contacts, messaging, and more.

If you’re a Gmail diehard, you’ll be pleased to know that three of the four native Windows 8 communications apps have native support for your Google account, using Exchange ActiveSync to tie things together.

You only need connect your Google account once to integrate your email with the built-in Windows 8 Mail app. At the same time, you can connect your Google calendar and contacts to the Windows 8 Calendar and People apps.

add-your-google-account-to-windows8-small

The missing piece of the puzzle, you might have noticed, is the Windows 8 Messaging app, which doesn’t support Google’s Chat features (it’s compatible with Windows Messenger and Facebook messaging).

So why bother? I mean, most Gmail users are accustomed to opening Chrome and checking their mail, so why use a local app? In the case of the Windows 8 apps, there are two very good reasons:

After connecting your Google account to Windows 8, new messages and upcoming calendar events show up in the live tiles on the Start screen. (You can get there with a tap of the Windows key.) That allows you to both check for new mail and see your schedule without having to open an app or a web page.

gmail-and-calendar-in-live-tiles-small

In addition, you can use the built in Share charm to send content from the Metro-style Chrome browser (or any Windows 8 app) to Mail, with no copying and pasting or context switching required. There’s a keyboard shortcut to make it easier: Windows key + H.

Because the Google Account connection uses Exchange ActiveSync, any changes you make in the web-based interface are reflected immediately in the Windows 8 apps. I added a contact in Gmail using Chrome and watched as it appeared almost immediately in the People app. Similarly, an appointment I entered in the Windows 8 Calendar was reflected in the Google Calendar on the web within seconds.

As for other Google services, support is hit or miss. If you use Google Reader for RSS feeds, for example, you can take your choice of multiple Windows 8 apps that allow you to download and sync your RSS feeds. (I use Feed Reader, a $2.99 app that has been very effective.)

On the other hand, you won’t find any Google+ apps in the Windows Store yet. That shouldn’t be surprising, considering that Google has yet to open up the API for its social network. Eventually, one can expect multiple clients—maybe even one from Google itself.

Topics: Software, Google, Microsoft, Windows

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23 comments
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  • "Windows 8 Mode"...

    Yikes! "Windows 8 Mode"? Is that a Microsoft or Google thing? Whoever came up with that... Well, you know. Why can they not use the name Modern? It sounds so much better...
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • I don't know why but what's the diff?

      If you're presently in the "legacy desktop" mode and see that menu option, it currently implies that it's the mode you're not currently experiencing, which would naturally be Metro/Modern/whatev.

      Also, I believe it's context-sensitive as such that menu item won't appear in the Modern mode.
      reynoldsorb
      • The naming is just awful.

        It makes me cringe, that they couldn't come up with anything better than "Windows 8 mode".

        It also saddens me that the Metro design language seems lost on Google. C"mon guys....
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
        • Technically its not called "Metro Mode"

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/09/metro_to_be_called_windows8/

          Microsoft themselves now call it "Windows 8 Mode" because they legally can not call it Metro Mode.
          But lets blame Google for calling it by its real name.
          Please research your claim before posting it.
          Dustin Poissant
  • SECURITY ALERT: Microsoft releases critical updates for IE flaws Topic: Sof

    This is suppose to be! Good on you Microsoft & Google.
    pamandua2@...
  • SECURITY ALERT: Microsoft releases critical updates for IE flaws Topic: Sof

    I'll be buying window phone & window tablet. Forget about iPhone & ipad....
    pamandua2@...
  • “Co-opetition” = “Beginning Of The End”

    Note that none of those Google services actually depend on any features specific to Windows to run—they run just as nicely on Macs, Chromebooks, or even on Android devices.

    “Co-opetition” was the word used by Borland back in the early 1990s, when they gave up trying to compete with Microsoft and just decided to live with it. Guess what happened to Borland after that?

    If Microsoft has given up trying to compete with Google, and has decided just to live with it, guess what’s going to happen to Microsoft...
    ldo17
    • Seriously...

      Your comment could (and does) apply the other way too!
      crystalsoldier
      • Re: Seriously...

        Seems less likely, somehow...
        ldo17
        • How so?

          ..did Chrome Desktop suddenly take over the "real computing" world? Or are you still relying on Android tablets to show Microsoft the door?
          daftkey
          • Re: How so?

            Read the article. Note that none of those Google services actually depend on any features specific to Windows to run—they run just as nicely on Macs, Chromebooks, or even on Android devices.

            “Co-opetition” was the word used by Borland back in the early 1990s, when they gave up trying to compete with Microsoft and just decided to live with it. Guess what happened to Borland after that?

            If Microsoft has given up trying to compete with Google, and has decided just to live with it, guess what’s going to happen to Microsoft...
            ldo17
          • Cutting and pasting the same argument over and over...

            ..doesn't make it any more valid.

            Ed used the "co-opetition" word to describe this, not Microsoft. And Borland's need to compete with Microsoft on application development is quite different than Chrome being able to be run with an Metro interface.

            Most of what I've seen in the article points to Google building Windows 8 style applications, using tools available to any developers in the Windows 8 toolchest. This hardly appears to be a Borland-like "give up trying to compete" move on Microsoft's part.

            What is interesting, on the flip side, is that this allows users to continue to use Google's services without being exposed to ads on those services. If anything, this is a detriment to Google, not a help.
            daftkey
          • Re: This hardly appears to be a Borland-like "give up trying to compete" mo

            It means that Microsoft has given up trying to offer Google-like services. And note that none of those Google services actually depend on any features specific to Windows to run—they run just as nicely on Macs, Chromebooks, or even on Android devices.

            “Co-opetition” was the word used by Borland back in the early 1990s, when they gave up trying to compete with Microsoft and just decided to live with it. Guess what happened to Borland after that?

            If Microsoft has given up trying to compete with Google, and has decided just to live with it, guess what’s going to happen to Microsoft...
            ldo17
    • and at that time

      Borland had much better products than MS. and MS killed Borland. It was so sad.
      ForeverSPb
      • Not all their products were that good ....

        Borland's C++ product was so bad, it drove me to MFC.
        roteague
        • I can atest to that

          the Borland builder & compiler i used in 2004 were a right pain in the ass to navigate (UI-wise) .. much less debug.
          thx-1138_
  • I would keep my PC google free.

    Thanks Ed, but at home I prefer to keep a google free evnironment. Especially with Win8, there is no need for any google junk, :- Bing & IE10 is perfect.
    owlllnet
    • +1

      Windows 8 with SkyDrive, Office 2013, Outlook.com, Bing and IE10 enough
      Ram U
      • Agreed.

        I'm in love with Microsoft's lineup. It's looking to be a good year for them.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Gmail Labels

    One huge disadvantage of the new Mail app is the missing labeling known from Gmail. They just don't show up in the. Another problem are the few settings that are available. For me there's no good reason to use that app. I hope Google will bring its own.
    ssc-hrep