Google patches bug in sync application for Outlook e-mail client

Users will get the patch through the latest version of Google's sync application

Google has released fixes to its newly introduced e-mail and calendar synchronization application that works with Microsoft Outlook.

The new synchronization app is called Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. It provides a way for users to keep their familiar Microsoft interface for e-mail and calendar functions while bypassing Microsoft Exchange Server. Instead, users connect with Google's Gmail servers in the Web cloud.

Google's enterprise blog announced June 30 that Windows Desktop Search now works with its sync app. Outlook's native search function wasn't patched because it worked before. The fix applies only to Windows Desktop Search, which is an optional plug-in tool for Outlook and other applications.

Google also bolstered its support for the Microsoft Office Outlook Connector plug-in, which helps users access Windows Live Hotmail. Additionally, Google improved the synchronization of notes in Outlook's contacts function. It also patched some installation issues.

Users will get the patch through the latest version of Google's sync app, which is being delivered to customers via automated update.

The debut of Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook caused controversy because of its potential to cut into Microsoft's mail server business. Shortly after the product was announced, Microsoft publicized a problem with using Windows Desktop Search with Google's sync app.

Since then, a Microsoft blog has reported a number of missing functions that users can experience when using Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, including synchronization problems with certain features in Outlook. Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs acknowledged that the user experience will not be the same when using Google's sync application with Outlook.

"There's no question that the experience is not the same with Microsoft Outlook," Kovacs said. "Absolutely, there are some features that don't work perfectly yet, and we are working on them."

A Gartner analysis said the use of different protocols was responsible for some of the variations, adding that "Outlook does work against [Google's] Gmail, but via the [Internet Message Access] Protocol, which does not support a variety of functions, including calendar."

Kovacs said Google's sync app uses the Messaging Application Programming Interface protocol, which is "much faster than IMAP, and we integrate really well with Outlook's calendar."

Google's Gmail service doesn't offer the option of using a mail server on the customer's premises. Although the lack of such an option might make it unappealing to some enterprise customers, Kovacs said Google's security approach offers "a lot of advantages." Google conceived of its Gmail service as something that would be "most valued within larger enterprises." He cited Google's current Gmail customers Genentech and Avago Technologies as examples.

Google also announced a resources site with more details about its hosted e-mail service, which is called Google Apps Premier Edition. The company is promising a 99.9 percent uptime service-level agreement and round-the-clock support as part of the service.

Google uses an automatic update service to deliver the latest versions of the software to customers. However, administrators have the option of controlling the delivery of software upgrades and reviewing them beforehand, Kovacs said.

Google offers its hosted e-mail service online via subscription and through its channel partners. The partners typically charge for value-added support, such as training, Kovacs said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is the online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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