back to article Grinchy Google to shut down another batch of services

As part of its ongoing process of pruning and streamlining its engineering efforts, Google has decided to terminate yet another batch of unloved and little-used services, in what it's calling its "winter cleaning." Citing a need to "focus on creating beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people's lives every day …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/14/3768274/google-gmail-activesync-windows-phone

    "This leaves Windows Phone users in a tricky position: at present, they’re offered two choices to set up a Google account. You can pick between email only or a combination of email, calendar, and contacts. The email-only option will set up an IMAP connection to Gmail which won't support push — it’ll sync every 15 minutes at best. The second option with calendar and contacts lets Windows Phone 8 users setup a Gmail connection using Exchange ActiveSync, with push email, calendars, and contacts. This solution will cease working from January 30th for new devices, leaving Microsoft little over a month to provide an acceptable alternative for end users."

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

      Not just windows phones.

      It also nukes all those Symbian holdouts. That is what I used to use in the days when I was still carrying an E71 around.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. petur
        Meh

        Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

        Ditto Nokia N900....

        But nevermind, I'm setting up my own personal cloud, providing IMAP, calendar and contacts directly from my NAS. Then I'll be finally freed of these big companies :)

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

      It's not just WinPhone users - theoretically you can set up a BlackBerry BIS account to point at Google's ActiveSync interface. I expect that Microsoft's response will be to recommend using their outlook.com.

      What we're seeing is the beginning of a Google drive to reduce interoperability. Want to use your Google stuff in a convenient way? You'll need an Android phone then. It's like they're building a walled garden just like Apple have. I know that Android is "free", meaning that manufacturers can get into the garden that way. And I know that some Chinese manufacturers de-googlise Android to point it at their own services. But the end consumer can't easily take an Android phone, point it at some other cloud and get anything like the same functionality.

      Fragmentation in this field is ultimately not good for the consumer. Personally speaking I think that the governmental regulators all round the world are missing some fairly important developments. It would be far better for Joe Public if there was true standards based interoperability to allow true competition.

      That happens in the mobile network business, (or at least it does in Europe/UK), so why not in "cloud services"? Instead what we have at the moment is a series of walled garden phone/cloud combinations designed to trap the consumer. At least MS license ActiveSync to other players (like RIM), allowing other phone manufacturers in on MS's cloud.

      ActiveSync is a good protocol, it's only drawback being that it's proprietary to MS. It does everything; email, contacts, calendar, etc. It's certainly way superior to the standard alternatives (IMAP, POP, SMTP, and they do only email anyway).

      Pointing a BlackBerry BIS account at Hotmail using ActiveSync results in a pretty good set up. From the experiments I've done new message notifications are pretty much instant. I guess that Windows Phones are similarly nippy. Though presumably without BB's deep-down-in-the-radio-layer notification system Windows Phones use more battery power to do so.

      1. Neil Lewis

        Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

        Actually, in some ways it seems less a move to reduce interoperability and more a move to marginalise those protocols which were intended to not to be interoperable. Sure, MS may licence ActiveSync, but Google are standardising on a free protocol. There is no reason MS could not make WinPhone use the free protocols as well as ActiveSync. As far as I can see, the only reason for that is a desire to lock people into ActiveSync, so this is bad for MS, but good for everyone else.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: "There is no reason MS could not make WinPhone use the free protocols"

          There isn't which is why Windows Phone does support 'free protocols'. You can use IMAP, POP3, whatever you want on a Win Phone, it just won't sync Calendars or contacts, but that is the same on every IMAP or POP client.

          In reality there is no reason that Google couldn't reverse-engineer the ActiveSync protocol and name it Google-sync or something like that. Performing black-box reverse engineering is perfectly legal and how Samba got along before Microsoft released the specs to it.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            no reason that Google couldn't reverse-engineer the ActiveSync protocol

            MS never take anyone to court over a thing like that have they?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "There is no reason MS could not make WinPhone use the free protocols"

            "Performing black-box reverse engineering is perfectly legal"

            In many countries, yes. But many countries allows stupid software patents. So when you try to re-implement it, you may be sued for patent infringement.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

        So much for Internet standards, RFCs and all that.

        When are Google going to screw up the web then?

      3. An0n C0w4rd

        Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

        "What we're seeing is the beginning of a Google drive to reduce interoperability. "

        Perhaps if MS didn't require a monthly license to use ActiveSync per user then Google would continue to support it. But as a provider who can supply EAS to mobile devices, the costs are non trivial.

        Or in other words, why should Google pay MS to use EAS when there are open standards that largely do the same that are (probably) license free?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems that by dropping ActiveSync, Google dropped a bomb on Microsoft

      Google are dropping a bomb on their users, make no mistake. This is hostile to anyone that doesn't use Android and that uses Gmail.

  2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    I still dont get why Google is dumping iGoogle

    That was probably the bit of Google I used most.

    Found uStart, which seems quite good. Theres now no reason to keep gmail, other than as a legacy in box for people I dont hear from much.

    1. petur
      Boffin

      Re: I still dont get why Google is dumping iGoogle

      Try adding /ig after your google url... tada, igoogle is back ;)

      1. Marvin the Martian
        Boffin

        Re: I still dont get why Google is dumping iGoogle

        No, iGoogle (in its /ig incarnation) will be discontinued in November 2013, so less than a year to go.

  3. CaptainBlue
    FAIL

    Sigh

    I rely on Google Calendar and ActiveSync to combine my work diary and private diary in one place. Nothing else seems to do the trick properly.

    And I too like iGoogle as my default home page. I think they're shooting themselves in the foot with lost ad revenues as I will have to use a different portal from now on.

    1. Turtle

      Re: Sigh

      "And I too like iGoogle as my default home page. I think they're shooting themselves in the foot with lost ad revenues as I will have to use a different portal from now on."

      One would have to think that ad revenues are only significant when there are really huge numbers of users. I would think that the services Google is cutting are services that can not attract enough users for the ad revenue to exceed expenses. Ad-supported services would seems useless in supporting niche-market products. One might think that, when ad-support pays so poorly per user, a "niche-market" could still be one that contains tens of millions of users.

      1. FanMan
        Facepalm

        Re: Sigh...... "unloved and little-used services"

        ... yeah, like iGoogle. My door to the universe. Big, big loss.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Sigh...... "unloved and little-used services"

          Isn't AOL still going?

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: Sigh...... "unloved and little-used services"

            Havent seen an AOL disc for yonks, not bothered by the software but they make good coasters.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More reasons not to trust the internet's biggest advertiser. Before someone claims these are free services so suck it up, it needs to be pointed out google isn't doing things for fun. They do it do it for your data so they aren't free and people have the right to complain all they want.

    1. Ole Juul

      many ways to pay

      I pay for Gmail by having to delete all their spam postings in forums. I was hoping that was one of the services they were going to drop since I would benefit from that. I suppose spammers would beg to differ.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    now you know why their products stay in beta for years

    they need an easy excuse to pull them at any time

  6. h3

    Looks like I am using it.

    Google Sync

    Google Sync 1 device configured

    WindowsPhone

    Most recent: sync on Dec 14, 2012

  7. Michael Kean
    Unhappy

    Bugger...

    So I am about to lose:

    Google Calendar Sync with Outlook. (Was wondering why it was crashing.)

    Google Sync (Contacts, calendar) on my Nokia E51, E61.

    .. and a few annoyed customers probably who use Google Exchange to sync their iPhone and Google stuff.

    .. and my Galaxy Tab just died too - RAM has gone read only.

    All they need to do now is kill IMAP and I'm outta there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bugger...

      I think the way out is your own email domain etc. It's better than dealing with the trio of morons called Google, Apple and Microsoft.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bugger...

        No, you can still use them as you probably do now for spam receipt. Anytime you sign up for a board somewhere or buy a one off purchase, you use them. Any thing sent after the join confirmation email then goes in the Google bit bucket. And you use your own domain for Real email.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge
    FAIL

    Great.

    Great. Google is dropping features in calendar & Mozilla is dropping sunbird. I guess calendars are too hard for open source.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Great.

      As I understand it, the Lightening (calendar) plugin for Thunderbird is an independent effort by a some guy somewhere who tries his best to keep up with Thunderbird changes, but doesn't always manage to do this on time.

      You're right - why are simple and common standard calendar functions so difficult to provide?

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Great.

        "You're right - why are simple and common standard calendar functions so difficult to provide [for free]?"

        I added the bit you missed. If you want a calendar service, why not pay for one (e.g. Outlook/Exchange) or help out/donate to the Lightning devs (Kewisch et al)?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great.

        Try waving your money at them or telling them you have a way of reducing their tax bill further, should get their attention.

    2. tardigrade

      Re: Great.

      Still got Evolution. Might be worth giving it a try again maybe? I've always used it on my Linux machines and there is a windows version. It's a bit long in the tooth now, but it still has some advantages over Thunderbird, like a pretty good calendar for one thing.

  9. Khaptain Silver badge
    Gimp

    Google obviously don't make money from Calendar Sync, they have not found a method to "inject "the usual publicity..

    This will piss me off as I have never found an alternative. There must be a busload full of people that use this, it's the only way to sync the calendar between Outlook and Android.....for free......

    Google Apps has to be paid for......thumbs down to google for behaving like twunts....

    1. The BigYin

      Aww, diddums. How nasty it is of the big Googly beast to make you pay for the labour of others.

      Actually, it's not nasty at all.

      1. FanMan
        Childcatcher

        You could say the same about iGoogle...

        ... but I'd be more than happy to pay for it, I'm surprised they don't offer that option

      2. Khaptain Silver badge
        Linux

        ????

        WTF, do you really believe that Google have a problem paying their staff ?

        I actually do pay the labour, indirectly through my usage of Google, multiple Android devices and also through Google Adwords.....

        <--Tux because you probably don't agree with Linux being free either.....

    2. johnny19

      "Google Sync was designed to allow access to Gmail, Google Calendar, and Contacts via the Microsoft® Exchange ActiveSync® protocol. With the recent launch of CardDAV, Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV, and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols."

      Basically, "we're dropping support for old proprietary software and allowing support for open standards". Some would call this progress. This is a free to use open standard that anyone can build software for, licence free. Apple use this already, and i'm sure given some time and some pressure Microsoft will likely cave and build support in as well.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Google wont work their arse of for free to sync to the outlook you pay for?

      just give me you wallet and fuck off back to lala land

      Love MS.

  10. Moeluk

    WHAT??!?

    They're turning off Activesync? Google...WHY......I couldn't care about the other stuff, but Activesync has made my life so much easier, so many times with guys phones at work..don't make me go back to imap.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Errr... read the article.

      They're not turning off ActiveSync, they're turning off the link between Exchange Servers and Gmail.

      You can still use the proprietry ActiveSync connection to connect to Exchange servers

  11. Fuzz

    Activesync

    Fortunately my gmail is via a Google apps account. How much longer Google choose to provide a free apps account though remains to be seen. They've already stopped new signups.

    If Google pull this feature then I'll probably move to outlook.com

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    This would have been fine if IMAP was a decent replacement for EAS - especially on mobile devices - but as we all know it isn't. Google themselves use several proprietary extensions on their IMAP servers to make their stuff work, so this "you can do essentially the same thing using open web protocols" (IMAP is a web protocol?) talk is a load of rubbish.

    1. wheelybird
      FAIL

      Yes. IMAP is a web protocol. It's a very efficient web protocol. With IMAP idle, supported by several IMAP servers and quite a few clients, you get 'push' email. For example, my phone connects to my Dovecot IMAP server and I get email notifications the moment they hit my inbox. CalDAV etc. are also widely supported on mobile devices. iPhones can do CalDAV. CardDAV is for contacts, it's less widely used but I think the the iPhone does them.

      So you *can* do essentially the same thing using open protocols. I can prove this by doing essentially the same thing with open protocols.

  13. ciderbuddy
    Facepalm

    Very annoying

    This is a shame as it was a really great workaround for copying contacts between smartphones. I work for a mobile telco in tech support and have used this option many times to help sustomers migrate too and from IPhones as an easy way to get the contacts off the phone.

    As far as I remember if you set the GMail account up on the IPhone as Gmail and not exchange it doesnt give the option to also add contacts and calendars - anyone fancy checking this for me, because I think that google might be well aware of this fact also!!

    As I said...annoying -esp. as I will now have to migrate my contacts to outlook.com as a backup measure too

  14. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    "beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people's lives"

    and advertising.

  15. Terry 6 Silver badge

    "The download link for the Google Calendar Sync plug-in for Microsoft Outlook was removed on Friday."

    Maybe there's another way to sync my Outlook (Office 2010) calendar with my Google one - but I don't know it and any other reasonably knowledgable user ( i.e. who knows enough to set that up) is well stuffed.

  16. M Couchman

    The obvious answer is to spend £2.82+VAT per month on an MS hosted Exchange account.. not free, but not expensive. Is that what Google want us to do?

    1. danieltharris
      Thumb Up

      Outlook.com will also let you setup an account with your own domain, basically what "Hotmail for Domains" was (Pretty sure it was called that).

      I put a client onto Exchange Online for a few quid a month recently, as he didn't need all the features of Office 365. It's really cheap as you say.

  17. Terry 6 Silver badge

    I guess my Google calendar is the one I use least. It was useful to sync calendars to my alternative computers, but I can live without it. Bye Bye Google calendars.

  18. dotdan

    Syncing Outlook and Google calendars still possible

    The gSyncIt software still works after Google's changes - it allows you to sync Outlook's calendar and contacts with those held in your Gmail / Google Apps account. It's easy and straightforward to use.

  19. MrRtd

    some miss igoogle

    Personally I never liked iGoogle. I always preferred the default google page. Since I use Kubuntu as my primary desktop, I already got my bits of information directly on my desktop thanks to all the plasmoids (widgets),.

  20. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Really? Any loss??

    The average fartie doesn't even know about these "features", so I'm sure it's gonna affect 0.01% of Google's (l)user base.

    Didums.

  21. Nick De Plume
    WTF?

    What is the open alternative to Activesync?

    I really would like to know.. Activesync is proprietary. But what is its alternative, that can sync contacts, calendars as well as mail?

    I myself use Android, but was thinking of getting a WP8 phone for a family member..

  22. paul.cahill

    Please don't take activesync away

    Anyone know a place on the web where I can beg lord google?

  23. Magnus_Pym

    Following MS protocols...

    ...not only requires licences fees but also eternal vigilance. You have to keep up to date with whatever the new direction Microsoft are going in and watch out for unannounced 'fixes' that break stuff for everybody else but Microsoft.

    Who would bother if they didn't have to?

  24. fmaxwell
    Megaphone

    Welcome to "cloud computing"

    I warned people about free "cloud" apps and how they could go away at any time. But most would not listen. No, I was old-fashioned because I didn't embrace a model where some company that owed me nothing controlled access to my data and applications, where an Internet outage could leave me unable to access critical data.

    So, just to be clear, relying on free cloud computing services, apps, and storage for anything important to you is stupid.

    Note: This is not an invitation to debate this topic with me. I'm posting to educate people, not argue with those who lack the knowledge, experience, or reasoning skills to recognize that what I said is completely correct.

    1. Barry O'Connell
      Thumb Up

      Re: Welcome to "cloud computing"

      Totally agree.

      Surely people will think twice before relying on such "free" services in future?

    2. danieltharris
      Thumb Up

      Re: Welcome to "cloud computing"

      They haven't really taken it away I don't think? I'm sure Microsoft can implement these open standards if they want to (Into their phones) along with Active Sync. Personally if I relied on Gmail I would just move to Outlook.com

      I agree with you though and that's why I at least pay for Office 365, with all my emails pulled down to Outlook and backed up. Yes they could still get rid of the service, but it's less likely and a good balance between having the convenience of a cloud service and no hassle of running my own email server.

      I think there was an article on here ages ago about not signing up to Cloud services if it doesn't give you a way to take regular backups of your data (Unless you don't care about said data). Even a paid for service could disappear over night.

      1. fmaxwell

        Re: Welcome to "cloud computing"

        danieltharris: "Even a paid for service could disappear over night."

        Agreed, but at least if the company was still in business, you would have some legal recourse. When you've paid nothing to Google, you're hard-pressed to make a legal case that they breached a contract.

    3. Nick De Plume

      Re: Welcome to "cloud computing"

      Your hdd is more likely to fail than a data outage at Google's.

      That said , I agree with you.

      So I use the cloud stuff for its very real convenience , but always have a local backup -just in case-.

  25. K

    Bye Bye Gmail...

    Love you loads and its been fun! But my work life uses Outlook.. if personal and professional won't play nicely, then one has to go.

  26. Alistair MacRae

    Does this mean push wont work anymore?

    I only signed up recently because it did push so easily.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean push wont work anymore?

      Push has always worked, it just depends whether your mobile platform supports it. N9 here, and Gmail push works perfectly.

  27. Kimbie

    So as I understand it I get my googlemail email on my iPhone via active sync and this will keep working but if I get a new phone then I can't do this?

    If so that sucks as my iPhone connects to google and my work exchange account with active sync

  28. Uncle Siggy

    free email

    I began the migration of my mail from Gmail to ISP hosted email about a year ago. I know the effort threshold is quite high for those with cell phones, but the payoff is great. I rid myself of an out of date contact list, and the "changing my email" announcement mail I sent reaped the benefit of identifying who actually cares to communicate with me. All my pointless mailing lists, gone.

    Kudos to Gmail on the spam controls.

    I left gmail because of my concern over privacy, especially the Google+ mandatory public profile. All of my devices communicate with my mail server securely, via IMAP.

    I had a follow on project with consolidating and controlling securely all my various passwords, increasing complexity of the passwords (per each sites differing requirement). I still suffer from PTSD.

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