When big companies duke it out, it’s supposed to be consumers who win through lower prices and better products. But it doesn’t always work that way.
Consider the “Google vs. Microsoft” fight. Google makes Android, a popular operating system for smartphones. Microsoft traditionally made desktop software, like operating systems and office suites. But Google wants you to use their email service, Gmail, with Android devices. This is great if you’re starting from scratch, but what about people who have decades of information stored in Outlook? Couldn’t Google make some kind of free app that would sync calendar data between Outlook and Gmail? Well, they did, but they killed it on August 1, 2014.
Since then, people like me who use non-Gmail email accounts with Outlook have been scrambling to find a good replacement. It ain’t easy. Some of these apps are expensive: $49.95 for something that used to be free? Really? And some of them just plain suck: I tried one sync app that worked as an Outlook plug-in, and it added 37.7 seconds to Outlook’s start time, and often slowed the app to a crawl. There are a few webapps for this, but I’ve found them to be unreliable (either the software doesn’t work, or the whole dang company shuts down). And the webapps are often more expensive than desktop apps: instead of a one-time $49.95 fee, these jokers want me to pay $5.99/month for the rest of my life! Sure, most offer a discount for annual payments, but whatever.
But if you’re looking for alternatives to the old Google Calendar Sync, you should know that there are options out there.
One is Calendar Sync Free. As the name suggests, it’s a free program that comes either as a standalone app (with installer) or portable app (unzip and run). The app is not an Outlook plug-in, so it shouldn’t slow Outlook down when you’re not using it. It works, and works well for the few weeks I’ve used it. The downside is that the free version only syncs up to 30 days in the future. A $9.99 “Pro” version is available which can sync a customizable date range and can delete appointments with 2-way sync.
There’s also an app called Outlook Google Calendar Sync. This app is totally free, and aims to have all the great (non-crippled) features commercial apps have, like two-way sync, customizable date ranges, and automatic sync. It’s a little more difficult to set up – you have to authorize the app in Gmail, then enter a key Google gives you into the setup wizard. There are more options generally, and certain debugging features are turned on by default. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it works (the current version is a fork of an abandoned app, so there’s a lot of “housecleaning” going on at the moment). I like it, and hope to see big things from it in the future!