"We were very surprised to see Gmail announce last week that they'll soon end support for Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), unless of course you're willing to pay Google for your email," said Dharmesh Mehta, a senior director of product management at Microsoft, in a blog post.
"It means that many people currently using Gmail for free are facing a situation where they might have to degrade their mobile email experience by downgrading to an older protocol that doesn't sync your calendar or contacts, doesn't give you direct push of new email messages and doesn't have all the benefits of Exchange ActiveSync," he said.
[ Is Microsoft Office right for touch-based computing? Read Office 2013: Is Microsoft Out Of Touch? ]
Google said that it will continue to support existing ActiveSync accounts, but that after Jan. 30 users who want to set up new access to the non-commercial version of Gmail on Windows and Windows Phone mobile devices will need a workaround. One way is to set up an IMAP connection. Users who do so will still be able to access their Gmail, but new e-mails and notifications will not get pushed to them in real time.
"So if you want a better email, especially on your phone or tablet, it's time to join the millions who have already made the choice to upgrade to Outlook.com," said Mehta. IMAP and another e-mail protocol known as POP "were designed decades ago," Mehta noted.
Users of Google Apps for Business, Government and Education will continue to have the option to use ActiveSync with those services. Google last week said its decision to end support for ActiveSync on the free version was simply part of a "winter cleaning", under which it also is eliminating a number of other services it said were underused.
"Last January, we renewed our resolution to focus on creating beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people's lives every day. To make the most impact, we need to make some difficult decisions," the company said, in a blog post of its own. Getting the axe, as of Jan. 4, are a number of Google Calendar features, including one that allowed users to create new reservable times on their Calendar through Appointment Slots. Smart Rescheduler and Add Gadget by URL are two other features that are also getting cut. Google Calendar Synch was discontinued last week.
Several other Google online services are scheduled to be terminated.
"As you enter the New Year, we encourage you to seize the opportunity to upgrade your mail to a service that puts the consumer first and gives you a great mobile email experience," Microsoft's Mehta chided, in response to Google's announcement.
Tech spending is looking up, but IT must focus more on customers and less on internal systems. Also in the new, all-digital Outlook 2013 issue of InformationWeek: Five painless rules for encryption. (Free registration required.)