Facebook's API change severs Microsoft apps from friends' info

No fix forthcoming from Microsoft for wide range of apps and services on desktop and mobile

Facebook has rolled out a new API (application programming interface) that has crippled most of the connections Microsoft built into its mobile and desktop apps to link with Facebook calendars, contacts and photos.

The change to the Graph API -- triggered by Facebook's desire to give users more control over what they shared with third-party apps -- was first broached in April 2014. Facebook gave outside developers a year to switch to Graph 2.0.

Microsoft passed on making the changes in its apps and services.

"Facebook has made an update to their Graph API that will impact Microsoft apps and services," Microsoft said in a document recently published on its support site. "Due to these changes, Facebook Connect features will no longer be supported."

"Facebook Connect" is the term for synchronizing content from Facebook with other applications and services.

In Microsoft's case, Facebook Connect brought Facebook contacts and calendars into Office 365, Outlook.com, Windows, and the Windows 8 and 8.1 People and Calendar apps. It also allowed other Microsoft apps, including Movie Maker, OneDrive, Photos and Photo Gallery to sync and share Facebook content.

The synchronization between Facebook and Microsoft's apps and services stopped working on June 9.

Microsoft declined to answer questions about whether the breakage was permanent, and why it decided not to upgrade its apps to the new Graph 2.0 API, implying that the sharing was dead.

Facebook also declined to comment.

It's unclear which side, Microsoft or Facebook, is responsible for the broken connections. Although Facebook gave developers a year to make changes to their apps -- to use the new API -- the Menlo Park, Calif. company's new rules made it impossible for the kind of information sharing Microsoft had previously enabled.

That's because Graph 2.0 allows Facebook users to share only their own information with third-party apps; they can no longer share friends' data, such as contact information -- the key to bringing Facebook friends into Microsoft apps like People on Windows 8.1 -- those friends' photographs, or birthdays and other events. The latter two were the extent of the calendar sharing between Facebook and Microsoft's software.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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