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.
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.
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.