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

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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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 Outlook.com." 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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