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2/9/2009
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Google Sync Has Microsoft Inside

The push technology in Google Sync, available in beta for the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and other phones, is licensed from Microsoft.

Google on Monday announced a beta version of Google Sync for the iPhone and Windows Mobile phones, software that synchronizes Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar events across the Web, computers, and mobile devices.

And Microsoft would like to remind the world that, despite the image that Google cultivates as the workplace of choice for engineering talent, the Silicon Valley search company isn't the only place where top researchers roam. In a statement, Microsoft said that Google's new software was made possible by a license from Microsoft.

"Google's licensing of these Microsoft patents relating to the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol is a clear acknowledgment of the innovation taking place at Microsoft," said Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel and VP of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft, in a statement. "This agreement is also a great example of Microsoft's openness to generally license our patents under fair and reasonable terms so long as licensees respect Microsoft intellectual property. This open approach has been part of Microsoft's IP licensing policy since 2003 and has resulted in over 500 licensing agreements of the last five years."

Google Sync appears to address the shortcomings of Calendar synchronization using the CalDAV protocol. Google introduced CalDAV integration in July 2008. While CalDAV worked as a way to sync calendar information between Google Calendar and Apple's iCal, it only allowed calendar data to be transferred to the iPhone, and not from it.

"For iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, Google Sync allows you to get your Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar events to your phone," said Google mobile engineer Bryan Mawhinney in a blog post. "Once you set up Sync on your phone, it will automatically begin synchronizing your address book and calendar in the background, over-the-air, so you can attend to other tasks. Sync uses push technology so any changes or additions to your calendar or contacts are reflected on your device in minutes. The connection is always on so you don't have to manually sync your phone after Sync has been set up."

Although Apple last year promised iPhone developers that it would deploy a unified push notification technology to allow iPhone apps to receive data without running a power-hungry background process, that update remains undelivered.

The push technology available in Google Sync comes from Microsoft. Google has deployed Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync technology on its servers through a licensing deal.

Google Sync is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia S60, Nokia standard, Sony Ericsson, and Windows Mobile. The BlackBerry version, which has been available for months, isn't in beta; the other versions are.

As beta software, Google Sync has a list of known issues.

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