Sync Outlook to Windows Phone via Windows Live

 

Sync via Windows LiveGreat news for those of you using Windows Live and Outlook: Sync via Windows Live is now in beta!  As you might expect, it works like our Sync via Google option: just put in your Windows Live credentials and we’ll wirelessly sync Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks from Outlook to Windows Live. From there, the data syncs down to your Windows Phone 7 or any other device configured with your Windows Live account.

This feature is currently in beta, but you can try it for yourself today by downloading the latest build of CompanionLink 5 (build 5004). When you select Windows Phone 7 as your device, you’ll see Sync via Windows Live as one of the sync options. Just follow the prompts from there and you’ll be set to begin syncing with Outlook or any other CRM system we support.

I should note that you can also opt to sync directly to Windows Live by selecting “No Device – Sync with Windows Live – BETA”. This allows you to sync Outlook to any device that your Windows Live account is set up on. And it’s not just Outlook – you can sync ACT!, Lotus Notes, Salesforce, and more with our new Sync via Windows Live option! So go ahead and get started today.

We’d love to get your feedback on Windows Live sync! Send us a message at marketing@companionlink.com or leave a comment below!

Is CompanionLink Part of the Google Tax?

Img Credit: The Globe And Mail

Does Google Apps come with “hidden fees?” That’s what Tom Rizzo of Microsoft indicates in a recent blog post about the hidden costs of Google Apps. In fact, he refers to the extra costs as the “Google Tax” – the costs one would incur if they started using Google Apps to manage email, contacts, calendar, tasks, desktop publishing, and document management.

It’s no secret that many people are searching for a replacement for Microsoft Office. What’s most interesting, perhaps, is that they aren’t actually switching. In fact, Microsoft’s findings show that 9 out of 10 people use Google Apps in conjunction with Microsoft Office; not as a replacement for Microsoft Office. The “Google Tax,” however, still applies. Microsoft mentions CompanionLink as an example of a third-party application that is required if two-way synchronization between Outlook and Google Apps is desired. CompanionLink is part of the Google tax, claims Microsoft in a white paper they published.

Under the scenario where Google Apps is used in conjunction with Microsoft Office, CompanionLink is, in fact, a key component of the Google Apps ecosystem. CompanionLink allows people to keep their Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar in sync with Google Apps. In fact, CompanionLink supports any Google, Gmail, or Google Apps account – paid or free.

Arguably, people using paid Google Apps services don’t need to use CompanionLink. Google offers a tool called Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook as part of any paid edition of Google Apps. If you’re on a free edition of Google Apps or using a free Google or Gmail account, you don’t have this option and need to look at 3rd party software like CompanionLink.

Even with Google’s tools, however, paying customers are offered forum-based support only. To some degree, this makes sense – they are a cloud-based company, after all. Phone or email support may not fit the cloud model.

This is where CompanionLink really shines.

In addition to numerous advance features, CompanionLink provides both email and US-based phone support. CompanionLink guarantees the synchronization between Google and Microsoft Outlook works on day one and day 365.

So, is CompanionLink a part of a “Google Tax?” Maybe. But we feel strongly that the ability to pick up the phone and talk to someone is, on its own, well worth the cost of admission (which, by the way, is a one-time license fee of $49.95).

The Plight of the Standalone Microsoft Outlook User

These days, “the cloud” is all the buzz. The cloud, in terms of contact and calendar sync (among others), means using a service like Google, Gmail, or Windows Live (Hotmail). Just host your data in the cloud and it will magically show up on your device. Simple, right?

Not so, say the people (as they rise in mutiny).

Google started the move to store personal information in the cloud. First with email, then with calendar, and then with contacts. If you buy a new Android phone, all your email, contacts, and calendar data that is hosted in the Google cloud will magically synchronize with your phone. Oh, and this magic works with iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry too.

Microsoft joined the cloud party with their Windows Phone 7 launch. They now require people to have a Windows Live account in order to sync PC data to the device. This means Microsoft Outlook users who have maintained years of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes data on their PC now have to trust that data to the cloud. The cloud will then synchronize with Windows Phone 7.

So what’s wrong with this?

Well, for starters, we’ve already seen this movie! Palm tried the same thing with their Palm webOS launch.  They required people to have a Google account, which integrated with Palm Synergy. If you wanted to keep your PC data in sync with your webOS device, you had to first sync to your Google account in the cloud. The story for Palm didn’t end so well. (HP may beg to differ.)

While the cloud is an amazing resource that should be used, not all Outlook users can digest trusting their PC data to the cloud. Many people have security requirements in place that simply don’t allow cloud storage of their data. Others are leery of hosting their sensitive information online. Their question is simple, “I’ve used Outlook for years. Why am I now being forced to add a web-based account, and trust everything to that?”

The cloud providers will argue that you trust a lot of things to the cloud, whether you realize it or not. They’re right. Your credit card details you use for that online orders, tax returns you prepare and submit online, or the numerous online banking and bill-pay services you use – they all store data in the cloud. And we don’t even blink.

But this is different. It’s not an argument on the security of cloud storage. It’s about having options. Put simply, not everyone wants to sync their Outlook data to the cloud – and they shouldn’t have to!

The good news is that there are alternatives. You’ll need to find a tool that allows you to keep your data on your PC and sync directly to your device. There are a few ways to go about this:

1. Check if your phone’s manufacturer offers a sync solution. BlackBerry and iPhone both offer such solutions to directly sync with Outlook.  BlackBerry offers BlackBerry Desktop Software, and Apple offers iTunes. Android, on the other hand, is more fragmented (HTC has HTC Sync, Samsung offers Kies, etc).

2. If the option from the phone’s manufacturer is non-existent or insufficient for your needs, look for third-party software. Shameless plug – CompanionLink has software that can sync your Outlook contacts, calendars, tasks, memos, and categories to your mobile device. It works with all Android, iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry devices. There are a number of other options available as well, but few offer the complete sync solution that CompanionLink does. For Android, SyncDroid has a solid list of most all of the sync options available. For iPhone and iPad, you’ll most likely have to piece together a solution from a few different apps in the App Store. For BlackBerry and other devices, your options are few and far between, but a search on Google should turn up some options.

In the end, the cloud is certainly where the industry is heading. As time goes on, it will likely become as ubiquitous and secure (or even more secure) than traditional data storage options. Until that time, however, those who wish to sync their data locally still do have options!