Google dropping ActiveSync support for most corporate email servers.

(Disclaimer: I was a Microsoft employee for six years and love my Windows Phone)

If you have an Android Phone, and sync with your work email, keep an eye on updates from your IT department – you’re going to have to change some settings.

Until recently, all smart phones used a Microsoft protocol called “ActiveSync” that made it easy to keep email, appointments, contacts, and tasks all updated with mail servers. (In the link below, note that soon the only phones not to support EAS will be Android phones) Pretty much everyone supported it because it’s powerful and easy, and very easy on users. And they had to pay a licensing fee to Microsoft to use it.

Google Dropping ActiveSync

Google decided to drop support for ActiveSync, which means Android phones won’t work with Exchange (a large number of corporate email systems). Instead they’re going to use a bunch of different protocols – one for email, a fifteen year old piece of junk called calDAV, and some proprietary gmail extensions because these protocols don’t make it easy to push email. They are saying “it’s because Google supports open protocols” but the obvious reason is to hurt Microsoft, and who cares what happens to their users.

Microsoft is scrambling to get the protocols implemented on Exchange, but shame on them – when handling your email, they want to be sure they do it right, and they’re asking Google to extend the date when they drop ActiveSync. I don’t think Google has responded yet – this may be because nobody can figure out how to get an actual person at Google to talk to.

In the meantime, if you’re shopping for a new phone and plan to use it with your office email, iPhones and Windows Phones (and Blackberries) support Exchange. And if you want web mail that works really well with your iPhone or Windows Phone, check out Outlook.com, because Gmail hasn’t changed in six years and will be using a cobbled-together bunch of old technologies.

Have a nice day. [grin]

Windows PowerShell: List Properties and Values of an Object

This may be obvious to some, but it took me a while to figure out.

If you want a list of all the properties and their values for an object in PowerShell, use Format-List like this:

$object | Format-List *

Hope this helps someone else!

One simple feature missing from many programs – Where is my file?

I only just realized this – I was working with KeePass to set up a synced copy of my password file to a SkyDrive folder. Of course I wanted to make a backup copy first, which I did with a “Save As Copy” command. Now the fun question – I have a file open in KeePass – which one is it?

Most of the time, you can figure this out by opening the Save As command and seeing where the file dialog opens. But in this case, since I’d used the “Save As Copy” command I wasn’t feeling deeply confident that would work. The file name is in the title bar, but not the path. Finally I realized the only true way to be sure which file I had open was to explicitly open the file I wanted open. Not really optimal…

So the question you have to ask yourself, if you’re writing a document-centric application – how easy is it for a user to check the path of the file they currently have open? Ways to make this available:

  • Put the path in the status bar, especially if you don’t have anything there now.
  • Mouseover popup when the user mouses over the filename in the title bar. (But you shouldn’t put the full path in the title bar, since the taskbar and other applications show the title bar to show what’s running, and a list that has nothing but “c:\user\Norm\My Documents\proje…” ┬áisn’t helpful)
  • My favorite: under the File menu, have “Information” to open a small dialog that shows the properties of the currently open file – file size, last saved, and of course, the full path.