Updates to the new Windows 8 apps: What Google users should know

If you're a Google user who also happens to use Windows 8 and/or Windows RT, here's the latest on what you need to know if you want to sync your accounts.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Since yesterday, when Microsoft began rolling out its Mail, Calendar and People application updates for Windows 8 and Windows RT, I've gotten a lot of questions about what's going on with Google calendar and Gmail synchronization.


In late January, the Windows team acknowledged that it planned to make changes as to how Microsoft-Google synchronization was handled. The reason? Google is dropping Exchange ActiveSync support (for all but its paying Google Apps customers). Unlike the Windows Phone team, which opted to support CalDAV and CardDAV -- which were Google's preferred syncing protocols at least until recently -- the Windows team drew a line in the sand.

That line, as originally stated by the team was January 30. The team said those who had connected their Google accounts to Windows PCs before January 30 would be fine. The exact statement:

"If you've already connected your Google account to your PC using the Mail, People, or Calendar apps, this change doesn’t affect you at all. Your email, calendar, and contacts will continue to sync properly."

But it appears the reality is more complicated. The Verge noted prominetly yesterday that Google calendar sync was disabled with the latest app update releases. And, indeed, that's the case.

With the new set of Mail/Calendar/People updates, Microsoft is switching all syncrhonization of Gmail accounts to IMAP. The "official" statement, provided to me on March 26 via a spokesperson, is: "In light of Google's decision to change its support for EAS, we are now using IMAP for those customers that wish to connect their Gmail accounts."

Some time between last night and this morning, Microsoft officials added a new set of instructions to the sync page for those installing the new Mail, Calendar and People updates. It says:

"To sync your email and contacts, you’ll need to remove your existing Google accounts and reconnect them. It’s important to note that if you have more than one Google account, you can only get your contacts for one account. And you'll no longer be able to sync your Google calendar with the Calendar app."

There are detailed instructions that follow about how those with the app updates should go about syncing their mail and contacts with their Google accounts.

A spokesperson confirmed that Calendar won't update with Google information, even for existing connections, once a user moves to the updated Windows 8/Windows RT Calendar app. IMAP is an email-only protocol, so I guess this shouldn't be too surprising. But I don't think the Softies made this plan as clear as they perhaps should have back in January.

Editorial standards