Google announced last week that it plans to drop Exchange ActiveSync support for new devices on personal Gmail accounts from January 30th. While Microsoft has remained quiet on the issue affecting Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone Gmail setup, the software maker has now responded to Google's announcement in a blog post. Microsoft's Dharmesh Mehta admits that the company was "very surprised" by Google's announcement, indicating that Microsoft does not have immediate steps in place to address potential access problems in the Windows 8-style Mail client and Windows Phone.

"Many people currently using Gmail for free are facing a situation where they might have to degrade their mobile email experience by downgrading to an older protocol," claims Mehta in Microsoft's first official response to Google's announcement. Trumpeting Microsoft's Outlook.com service and Exchange ActiveSync, a protocol that lets you sync email, calendar, and contacts to mobile devices, Mehta says "we encourage you to seize the opportunity to upgrade your mail to a service that puts the consumer first."

No word on how Microsoft plans to fix Gmail support in Windows 8 and Windows Phone

The wording of the post and the solution to switch to Outlook.com is certainly pause for thought and appears to indicate Microsoft doesn't have an answer just yet. Microsoft needs to act quickly to clarify how it plans to alter the default setup options for Gmail in Windows Phone and Windows 8, which currently offer a Exchange ActiveSync method to sync contacts and calendar items. Separately, our own sources have revealed that Microsoft's engineering teams are currently assessing how the removal will affect its operating systems before the company comments broadly about how it intends to handle Gmail support in future. It seems that Google's announcement truly caught Microsoft by surprise.