Google Apps Synch Tool Breaks Windows Desktop Search

Google's Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook synchronization tool disables Outlook's ability to search Outlook data and fails to work with other Microsoft plug-ins, casting a shadow of doubt on Google's ability to integrate its Apps messaging and collaboration programs with Microsoft's own enterprise applications for collaboration. Cemaphore CEO Tyrone Pike says porting to Microsoft is harder than Google realized. Google says it's got it covered, with fixes on the way.

Underscoring the trickiness of getting Web-based and desktop applications to work together, Microsoft said June 16 that Google's Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook synchronization tool disables Microsoft's Windows Desktop Search feature for searching in Outlook.

Google June 9 released Google Apps Synch for Microsoft Outlook with a mind to reach out to the millions of Outlook users who may desire to access their Google Apps e-mail, contacts and calendar through Outlook.

Google had hoped the tool would allow people "who love Microsoft Outlook to continue to use it when their company switches to Google Apps," a smart overture for a vendor trying to tap into Microsoft's monstrous enterprise productivity user base.

Seeking to build out its enterprise revenue streams, Google is gunning for even some of Microsoft's large share of the messaging and collaboration software market. By enabling users to trade data between Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, Google could make it easier for businesses who have been eyeing Google Apps to make a switch when their Microsoft licensing contracts expire.

Such migration goals are challenging. Microsoft Outlook Product Manager Dev Balasubramanian wrote in a blog post June 17 that the synch tool stymies Windows Desktop Search from indexing:

"When a Google Apps user installs the sync plug-in for Outlook, the plug-in modifies a registry key which disables Windows Desktop Search from indexing and providing search functionality for all Outlook data, not just the Outlook data being synchronized from Gmail. Because Outlook search relies upon the indexing performed by Windows Desktop Search, Outlook search functions are broken as a result. It is also important to note that uninstalling the plug-in may not fix the issue."

Balasubramanian added that Outlook users who have already installed this plug-in or have experienced this issue, must change the registry key that was modified by the plug-in. He provides instructions for how to do this in his post.

Chris Vander Mey, senior product manager for Google Apps, was more understated about the problems in his blog post, allowing that some plug-ins don't yet work with Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook:

"Programs that interact directly with the Outlook data file, including Windows Desktop Search and's encryption plug-in, don't currently work well with Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. Windows Desktop Search will not properly index Google Apps Sync data files, so in order to stop indexing from running indefinitely, the Google Apps Sync installer disables it. We recommend using the default Outlook search."