Moving your Google contacts to Outlook.com promises to be one of the easiest aspects of the whole Google to Microsoft migration. Because when you link your Google account in your (Microsoft account) settings, you get a very decent view on all your Google contacts.
There is a caveat in this, however. Like the majority of switching users, one of the first things I did in my new (old) Microsoft account, was link my Google account. This would ‘sync’ my contacts and calendar automatically, and without error might I add. BUT this also means you no longer have the option to physically import Google contacts, which in turn means that you must keep your Google account alive and kicking. Furthermore, you won’t be able to edit/delete contact details unless you create an Outlook version for the contact in question (this part is handled very well in the People UI, fortunately). This latter fact is logical because there is no 2-way synchronization between the two, but it is annoying that you can’t remove a contact that was ‘linked in’ by Google. Some users report that even after deleting the contact over at Google, the contact still remains in your address book…
I created an Outlook version of most, if not all, of my combined contacts (beautifully merged from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype and Twitter), thinking that Outlook would sync the information on first creation. This apparently happens partially, from what I can tell. It would take over someone’s personal e-mail address, for example, but not his/hers work e-mail. So very inconsistent behaviour here, making it impossible to determine what information I have at Outlook, and what information will be removed once I cut the Google link…
An option would be to temporarily remove your Google account link, and then manually import Google’s CSV file of contacts. Microsoft’s People has a good merging tool, so any duplicates won’t be much work to resolve. Still, I feel like ‘People’ could use a lot more polishing. E.g. there is no way you can manually choose a contact’s picture, it will always be the picture of the (most popular?) social network you have linked.
As a matter of test, I imported three contacts from a Google CSV file (formatted for Outlook). Two contacts were imported as expected, and merged perfectly, but the last contact was screwed up, creating a duplicate, but with a scrambled name (containing part of the CSV record), making me fear to bluntly import all of my contacts, as the merge tool won’t be able to detect this kind of duplicate.
So if you, like me, should wish to sever the connection between the two contact management systems, there is a risk that you lose some (or all, depending on your manual additions) information. This leads me to hang on to my Google Contacts list for now, although I do my updates in MS’s People application.
In hindsight, I recommend not to link your Google account when you switch, but first use the option to import Google contacts.
I can see myself trying the option I suggested rather soon though: temporarily decoupling my Google account, hopefully then getting the “Import Google contacts” option and import them through the People interface.
Btw: that’s another thing that’s unclear to me. Decoupling your Google account; will it have a big impact ? Does this decouple only Google contacts (unlikely) ?
In any case, I don’t like having two address books, so one will have to go. I just wish Microsoft would provide an option to ‘reset’ your address book, and import Google contacts, also after you already linked you accounts.
Update: I know myself all too well, it seems 🙂 Even before publishing this post, I just had to know, so I have tried to just bluntly import Google Contacts’ CSV file into my already filled up address book of People. As expected, I got all duplicates, but that’s for the merge tool to worry about. I can now confirm that the imported Outlook contact does have all fields filled out that you had in the Google version of the contact (well, at least the important ones, not sure about the more exotic Google-specific fields like ‘Relationship’). So after merging, you can be sure to have a complete contact, and if you so desire, you can delete (or archive, to be on the safe side) all of your Google contacts.
One word of caution though: make sure you go over the duplicates confirmation screen, as some contacts might be mistakenly proposed for merger. Especially when you don’t have an e-mail address of a contact, and his/her name resembles another contact strongly. Also a certain false positive: two different people using the same e-mail address. This happens more than you want, but keep an eye out for them. Luckily, they are very visible in the list, as you normally would have two boxes (the imported Google contact created as a new Outlook contact, and your existing Outlook contact), whereas the false positives will have three, so they stand out very cleary if you scroll through the list quickly.
Read my other posts about my online services switch from Google to Microsoft:
Moving webmail from Gmail to Outlook.com
Moving photo albums from Picasaweb / Google+ Photos to SkyDrive
Switching personal cloud service from Google Drive to SkyDrive
Moving file hosting service from Dropbox to SkyDrive
How Google is slowly losing me as a client to Microsoft
Switching search engines from Google to DuckDuckGo