Google: Do what you want with Reader, but don't kill CalDAV

Google: Do what you want with Reader, but don't kill CalDAV

Summary: While many people are upset that Google is killing off Google Reader, many of them are missing that Google is strangling support for a far more important Internet service: CalDAV.


I get why so many people are upset that Google is closing down its RSS Web service, Google Reader. There's even a "keep Google Reader alive" petition that's already crossed the 50,000 signers mark. But, you could argue that the decade-plus old RSS technology has already seen its best days. And, besides, there are lots of other RSS readers. Google killing off CalDAV, though, now that's a real problem.

Google has just made it a lot harder for Microsoft, or anyone else, to work with their calendaring services.

CalDAV, for those who don't know it, is an open standard for Web-based calendar services. It's used in Apple's iCal, Mozilla's Calendar Project-based programs, and a host of other calendaring, e-mail, and groupware programs. It's as close to a lingua franca for calendaring applications as we have, and now Google will only be supporting it for "whitelisted developers, and will be shut down for other developers on September 16, 2013."

What Google wants developers to do instead of supporting this open Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard is to use Google Calendar API (application programming interface) instead. Excuse me, what's wrong with just supporting CalDAV? Could it have something to do with an ongoing feud between Google and Microsoft?

Recently, Google announced that they were dropping Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support for syncing e-mail, contacts and calendar for non-paying Google customers. That would have left many Windows Phone users high and dry. So, Microsoft announced that they'd start "building support into our software for the new sync protocols Google is using for calendar and contacts—CalDAV and CardDAV. 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."

Back in January that was fine with Google. A Google spokesperson said, "With the launch of CardDAV, it’s now possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols (IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV) for Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts. We'll start rolling out this change as planned across all platforms."

As for Windows 8 and RT Microsoft wasn't going to support calendar integration with CalDAV at all. Specifically, Microsoft said that it would be "a good time to simply switch to" As for syncing with Google's calender using Windows 8 or RT's native calendaring apps, all Microsoft currently had to say was, "Unfortunately, with Google changing the way it supports EAS, your Google calendar can’t sync with the Calendar app."

Now, in what looks like a tit-for-tat move, Google seems to be saying, "Well, if you won't let your users use our calendaring functionality, we won't provide an open way of doing it for anyone unless they ask very nicely with sugar on top."

A Google representative has said that as far as they're concerned Microsoft will still be able to implement CalDAV support on Windows Phone. Will Microsoft do it though? And, what about Windows 8? RT? We still don't know. 

Oh, come on! Google, Microsoft, get over it. CalDAV is a mature open technology that's used by everyone. If you support it, everyone benefits. If you don't, besides making it harder for Google users to work with Microsoft services, and vice-versa, you're making it harder for everyone else to use your services. So could everyone please just support CalDAV and make both users' and programmers' lives a little easier? Please!?

Correction: Microsoft has never announced any intention to support CalDAV for Windows 8 and RT's native apps

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Topics: Networking, Enterprise Software, Google, Microsoft, Software, Software Development, Windows, Google Apps, Web development

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  • don't be evil

    That's Google. Face it.

    Good, that the original supporter of CalDAV, Apple has not decided to abandon it. Nor are the many open source projects that make use of it.
    • That was long ago

      Last year I've checked and this is no longer their (unofficial) slogan. Seems they've dropped that policy ~2009.

      see, this thing, hacking user's wi-fis during street-map shooting, forbidding AdBlock on GooglePlay are just 3 fresh and evil thinks I can think in a second.

      Have you hear google pretending for "don't be evil" in last 4 years (at least)?
      Найден Георгиев
      • What?

        | hacking user's wi-fis during street-map shooting
        Do you have a source for that? As far as I recall they recorded the SSIDs of unsecured networks, not hacked wifi networks.

        | forbidding AdBlock on GooglePlay
        That's hardly evil. It's in fact a huge plus, for anyone developing non-paid apps. Google is supporting the little guy, who makes his money from ads in the applications and websites he spends countless hours developing. Adblock and its ilk are killing the open web by making free content an unviable model - THAT is evil.
        • Oh noez AdBlock is killing the Internets!

          1) They recorded SSIDs of both secured and unsecured networks, but that's not the issue - they captured data packets from the unsecured ones.

          2) If ads are the only way to support your free projects, you're obviously doing something wrong (i.e. they are not good enough for someone to want to donate and/or you don't offer good support).
          Vladislav Zorov
          • What?

            How is using ads as a means of support for free projects doing something wrong? I would ask you to take a few minutes to consider how many websites out there offering up free content would not exist if it weren't for ad placement revenue.
          • I have considered it

            And frankly choosing between a website bombarded with Adware vs. no website at all, then ultimately I would choose the latter.

            Or you'll just have to put up with the Adblocking. It's as simple as that.
        • the ssds

          In fact, Google was found guilty in the crime of recording not only the SSIDs, but also the contents of communication in unencrypted hotspots, which is, shall we remind you, almost 100% of the public hotspots.
        • I don't want to look at your shtty ads

          Forcing me to do that isn't going to get me to buy any of your products. In fact, quite the opposite.
          • forcing?

            That's a bit strong. If you can't look away from the ads then don't use an ad-supported software. No need for an ad blocker.
          • Why should I give up my ad blocker?

            To help you out with your stupid bean-counting mouse clicks?

            I'm under NO obligation to view anybody's shtty ads. If a website (or software) needs them so badly then they probably aren't worth supporting.
        • Fanboy...

          Now change "Google" to "Apple" or "Microsoft" and see how that would affect your reaction. What you have written is typical fanboy apologies for a company that really doesn't need you to do so. Google have been at least as creepy as everyone else for a while, since before the phone nonsense.
    • It seems Microsoft is the problem, not Google.

      From the article: "As for Windows 8 and RT Microsoft wasn't going to support calendar integration with CalDAV at all. Specifically, Microsoft said that it would be "a good time to simply switch to""
  • It's not just Microsoft - They're siloing it from everyone.

    Important to note: Google sunsetted ActiveSync support even for paying customers on anything after Outlook 2010. So, if you pay for Apps & buy a new Windows-based machine, you're out-of-luck because Office 2010 is getting increasingly very difficult to find. In fact, most stores have pulled it from their shelves and are only selling Office 2013 as is Microsoft's Office site, with which paid Google Apps will now not sync with.

    The other thing is iPhone/iCal users. If you keep your iPhone Calendar in sync with your Google Calendar, the end of CalDAV support means that's going to be broken too!

    So, Google isn't just screwing over Microsoft, their screwing over anyone who uses Google Calendar in conjunction with a competing platform. They're siloing it.

    I'm sure some 3rd party calendar apps will refactor to use the proprietary Google Calendar API, but it's clear they want to control how and where it's used, with what can talk to it, and probably only want it to be truly useful in a browser or on an Android phone. (or at least on something they control the API of, or get to whitelist)

    Definitely a piece of super bad news overlooked in light of the Reader outrage - which also really sucks.
    • iCal users

      Just move your calendars to iCloud. Or any other CalDAV platform. Your calendars don't have to sit at Google.

      Might be, there will be gateways/proxies that will talk to Google services using their proprietary APIs and with you using CalDAV. Nature does not tolerate void spaces...
      • Nonstarter

        Yes, I'll just move all our Windows/Office users over to iCloud ;-P

        If you're an enterprise user *paying* for Google apps, the decision to drop support for ActiveSync, followed by the decision to no longer support CalDAV is really telling. Google got into enterprises because of interoperability with Exchange protocols/set-ups. I guess we were just paying beta users.

        I brought up the iCal issue to highlight that these moves are about more than a holy war between Mountain View and Redmond -- it's about Google locking things down and trying to make itself -not just the web- the platform.
        • Like I said, you are not tied to Apple

          While Apple co-authored the CalDAV RFC, it is an open standard for public use. There are plenty of platforms supporting CalDAV, not just iCloud and certainly not just Google.

          It is amazing how many people associate Google with these things, which tells how good of bait Google provided in form of freebies.

          I am at loss why Microsoft themselves do not provide CalDAV service, or at least an CalDAV service to their own technology. Everyone, but mostly Microsoft will benefit from this.

          And yes, you could switch your Windows/Office users to iCloud, if that suits you for one reason or another. Apple do support Windows in their services and because both Apple and Microsoft are in the business to provide services to their customers (whom are not viewed as the product, as by Google), it is just as safe bet, as having an Mac and using Microsoft software/services.
          • How does iCloud help me if I own no

            Did you miss the part where I said I was paying for Google Apps (under contract) and supporting a business that runs on Windows and Outlook? I am more affected by the decision to drop ActiveSync than CalDAV, but was holding out hope that perhaps Microsoft would support CalDAV in a future version of either piece of software. Google's decision to drop CalDAV support makes that moot. Perhaps you know something I don't, but iCloud is service in support of iOS and Apple products, no? I understand that it works on Windows with/via iTunes, but that's not what I need. I'm supporting Outlook users and I already pay for a Calendar service with Google Apps.
        • Good bye Gmail, Hello

          Time to say good bye to gmail anyone ?
          I rather move to Hotmail and work with iPhone and Outlook than have to move to Webmail and Android.
          Beside admin far far better than gmail.
      • ics invitation

        Google has managed event ics invitations (from Outlook) well in the past. Does iCloud automatically handle ics invitations? iCal doesn't.
        Paul Dandurand
    • Activesync

      Outlook has never supported Activesync, this is typically supported on mobile devices. In a windows environment paid Google Apps is supported by Google Apps Sync is used to connect Google mail, contacts and calendars to Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010. Third party apps are also available.

      The Windows 8 Mail, Contacts and Calendar Apps do support Activesync but not with Google's implementation. The connection is now blocked by Google anyway.

      As I see it Microsoft is finally starting to support more open standards while Google are moving to restrict use to proprietary protocols. As the underdog in the mobile space I would consider it sensible for MS to introduce support for Google's sync APIs. On the flip side my Android devices connect seamlessly using EAS to my Microsoft Online Services account but in future should we expect Google to drop EAS and other client protocols from Android to further restrict their ecosystem?

      Matt Hamilton