Why we can’t sync Windows Phone 7 via USB (Yet)

Edit note:  CompanionLink can now synchronize with USB and Windows Phones.

If you’re here, you’re not alone. Many people are looking for Outlook USB sync with Windows Phone 7. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t provide this feature. Windows Phone 7While CompanionLink does offer wireless sync options for Windows Phone 7, limitations with the Windows Phone SDK technology prevent us from offering direct USB sync. We want to offer it, but we can’t.

CompanionLink has a long history of offering direct sync with all major smartphone platforms including Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Palm webOS, and the previous Microsoft Windows Mobile platform. When Windows Phone 7 was announced, we jumped to be the first to offer PIM synchronization for the platform.

Unfortunately, we discovered there is no way to interface with the device using USB protocol. Also, we lack the necessary app permissions to write contacts, calendar, tasks and notes to the device. Double-whammy; our hands are tied in two ways. Unfortunately, this means that CompanionLink, as well as any other third-party developers, won’t be able to offer direct sync to the Windows Phone platform until the tools are provided.

We’ve asked Microsoft about this issue, but have not yet received a reply. It’s possible Microsoft may open more options for developers in the future. We eagerly await that day!

How to sync the Nokia Lumia 800 with Outlook

Nokia’s recent shift toward the Windows Phone platform had many wondering if the iconic manufacturer would be able to continue its track record of success. Early reports are indicating that sales of the Lumia 800, Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone device, have been overwhelmingly positive. This is good news for Nokia fans and Windows Phone fans alike. Nokia has always had delivered excellent hardware design, and the Windows Phone platform gets backing from a major hardware manufacturer.

One of the big questions users have when they pick up the device is how to sync the Nokia Lumia 800 with Outlook. Out of the box, the Lumia can sync with Exchange, but standalone Outlook users must look for another solution. CompanionLink offers two methods to sync Outlook contacts, calendar and tasks with the Lumia 800 – syncing through Google or via Window Live Hotmail.

CompanionLink works by syncing Outlook data to a Google account or Windows Live Hotmail account. From there the Lumia can be configured to automatically sync with either account over its wireless data connection (note: Google does not sync tasks with Winodws Phone devices – CompanionLink recommends syncing via Windows Live Hotmail).

For more information on how CompanionLink syncs Windows Phone devices like the Lumia 800, visit www.companionlink.com/windowsphone/. We’re excited to see what Nokia has in store for us next!

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!

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!

How to Sync Windows Phone 7 with Outlook


A number of years ago, Windows Mobile 6.5 was released to the public. Though it had its quirks, the Windows Mobile platform gathered a small but loyal following of business professionals and productivity enthusiasts. Perhaps the biggest reason for this following was just how easy the platform made it to sync with Microsoft Outlook.

When Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 last year, they completely revamped the interface to make it much easier to interact with. Some would even say they’ve made it pretty. At this time, many existing Windows Mobile owners assumed that Outlook sync would work the same way it had before. It didn’t. Disappointed, confused, and upset are only a few of the words that would describe the general reaction to the situation. Amazingly, Microsoft offers no method to sync Windows Phone 7 to Outlook directly via USB.

What are Windows Phone 7 owners supposed to do? Microsoft offers two official solutions: Sync via a hosted Exchange server or use the Outlook Hotmail Connector. Exchange setup is fairly straightforward – if you have an Exchange server, that is. For those who don’t, the Outlook Hotmail Connecter is the only other option from Microsoft. This option requires you to sync your Outlook data to Windows Live/Hotmail, which then wirelessly syncs to your phone. Both options limit you to syncing contacts and calendars only.

While current Windows Phone 7 API’s prevent CompanionLink from providing a direct sync option, we can sync Outlook to Windows Phone 7 devices via Google. This option offers advanced wireless sync of contacts and calendars, as well as tasks and categories. We sync your Outlook tasks to the calendar as untimed entries, and we sync Outlook contact categories as Google Groups. Once CompanionLink syncs your data to your Google account, it is automatically synced to your phone, courtesy of Google. This happens through your phone’s wireless data connection. Two-way sync is fully supported too, so you can make changes from anywhere.

To get started, simply download CompanionLink for Outlook and configure it with your Google username and password. Detailed setup instructions can be found on our support page. Next, set up your Windows Phone 7 device to sync with your Google account and you’ll be done. It’s that simple!

We’ll be keeping an eye on the Windows Phone platform. With any luck, perhaps a future update will allow developers such as ourselves to implement a more robust sync solution.

If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.

Windows Phone 7 and Outlook

As the Windows Phone 7 US release date creeps closer (and UK fans begin to get their hands on the new devices), more info is coming to light regarding how Windows Phone 7 will sync with Outlook. Windows Phone 7 is a radical shift from the business-oriented Windows Mobile 6.5, and has clearly adopted a more consumer-friendly style (courtesy of Zune). While the user-interface enhancements are sure to please most users, Microsoft’s core mobile competency has always been tight integration with its Office suite, including Microsoft Outlook.

Windows Phone 7 includes support for Exchange Active Sync, allowing large companies with an Exchange server to easily adopt the new platform. However, what options exist for standalone Outlook users who do not have access to an Exchange server?

In the past, Microsoft has allowed its Windows Mobile devices to sync direct with the PC over a USB cable using Windows Mobile Device Center. In a puzzling move, Microsoft has announced that standalone Outlook users must use the Microsoft Office Outlook Hotmail Connector to sync their contacts and calendar with Windows Live Hotmail. Hotmail offers Exchange Active Sync support to push contacts, calendar and email to Windows Phone 7. While this solution may work for some, there will be many passionate Outlook users who do not want their data “in the cloud” because of security and privacy concerns.

Why didn’t Microsoft update Windows Mobile Device Center to include support for Windows Phone 7? It’s hard to believe that Microsoft made this decision on purpose, especially since their largest competitor – the Apple iPhone – provides direct Outlook sync through iTunes.

Reports  have been coming in (see Sascha Segan’s PCMag review and Walt Mossberg’s WSJ piece) that Windows Phone 7 does sync with Google/Gmail, as Google also provides contacts and calendar sync through Exchange ActiveSync. This means that CompanionLink will tentatively support Windows Phone 7 from day 1 with our Google sync solutions, extending support for WP7 sync to users of ACT!, Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop, GroupWise and other PC software. Many users are already expressing their frustration at the lack of a direct Outlook to Windows Phone 7 sync solution, and CompanionLink will continue to evaluate alternate sync methods as more information becomes available.

How to Sync Windows Phone 7 with Outlook

Initial impressions on sync support for Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7, expected to release next month, is the next major smartphone platform from Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 is a complete operating system re-design, borrowing more from their Zune media players than their existing Windows Mobile 6.5 platform. The big question that we have here at CompanionLink is how Windows Phone 7 will sync with the PC.

A recent post from pocketnow.com details the current situation for Outlook sync with Windows Phone 7. Unlike the previous Windows Mobile 6.5 platform, Windows Phone 7 will not use Windows Mobile Device Center/Active Sync for direct PC-to-phone sync. Windows Phone 7 will use the Zune PC software to sync media, but for Outlook contacts, calendar and tasks, an Exchange server is required. While this presents no problem to large organizations with dedicated Exchange servers, standalone Outlook users are left out in the cold.

Both Gmail and Hotmail now offer free Exchange Active Sync support for most popular smartphone platforms. Thus, Windows Phone 7 should be compatible with both these services to sync contacts and calendar via Exchange (since Windows Phone 7 has not yet been released, this is educated speculation).

CompanionLink offers a solution that will sync Outlook contacts and calendar with any Gmail, Google, or Google Apps account. Once the data is synced with Google, supported smartphones can easily be configured to sync wirelessly with that Google account using the Exchange protocol. If Windows Phone 7 can sync with Google, as indicated by initial impressions, then CompanionLink will be able to offer support for Windows Phone 7 upon launch.

An official announcement regarding CompanionLink’s support for Windows Phone 7 will be released soon pending our testing of the platform. Look for announcements on our homepage at www.companionlink.com