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February 9, 2009 10:38 AM

Google licenses Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft for new mobile service

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

mobile sync logos.JPG Google today launched Google Sync, a service that allows people to easily move and synchronize contacts and calendar items between devices. The company is licensing patents from Microsoft "covering Google's implementation of the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol on Google servers," according to a Microsoft statement.

Google Sync appears to compete directly with Microsoft's just-announced My Phone service.

"This new Microsoft cloud service syncs critical information (e.g., contacts, calendar appointments, tasks, text messages, photos, video, etc) on a user's mobile phone to a password protected Web site," a spokeswoman said in an e-mail last week after growing speculation prompted Microsoft to unveil the service early. Microsoft plans to provide more details at next week's Mobile World Congress.

Both Google Sync and Microsoft My Phone are in a beta or test phase right now, however, Microsoft's is limited and available only by invitation. Google is opening its beta more broadly.

More on Google Sync:

"For iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, Google Sync allows you to get your Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar events to your phone. 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."

Google already has a version available for BlackBerry users.

Microsoft has licensed the Exchange ActiveSync protocol to several other mobile communications players, including Apple. Horacio Gutierrez, a top Microsoft intellectual property and licensing executive, said in a statement that Google's licensing of the patents related to the protocol "is a clear acknowledgement of the innovation taking place at Microsoft."

He said it also exemplifies the company's "openness to generally license our patents under fair and reasonable terms so long as licensees respect Microsoft intellectual property."

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