If you’re familiar with how Windows Phone 7.x syncs with the PC, you’re about to get a major upgrade: Windows Phone 8 now syncs to the PC through a much simpler Metro-style app or desktop application. And if you’re using Windows 8 on the PC desktop, you can choose between the two or mix and match.
Previous versions of Windows Phone utilized the Zune PC software—retroactively renamed to Zune Music + Videos to match the on-device software—for PC sync. And indeed, those with Windows Phone 7.x devices will continue to use Zune for PC sync as the new software is not compatible with the previous generation handsets.
Windows Phone app for Windows 8
Those with Windows 8 can utilize the new Metro-style Windows Phone app to sync their Windows Phone 8 handset. This simple app provides a full-screen interface with content sections such as On your phone, In the Store, and On the web.
In day to day use, the first section will be the most interesting. Here, you will find clickable regions representing the photos, music, and videos on your device plus tiles for adding photos, video, or music to the device.
The Photos view lets you browse through the albums on the device. As you navigate into particular albums, you’ll see tiles representing each photo.
To view an individual photo, just select it.
You can of course select albums or photos, download them to the PC, delete them, and change the sorting on the various views as well.
The Music and Videos views work similarly, with the same sorts of options.
Be sure to check out the app Settings, from which you can name the currently-connected phone (which is also configured at first connection) and determine how the device interacts with the software when connected.
Windows Phone desktop application
Where the Windows 8 app is aimed at forward-leaning users who have hopefully adopted the full Microsoft media stack, the desktop version of the application is for upgraders, those with existing Windows 7 PCs or upgraded Windows 8 PCs that wish to remain in the desktop and perhaps have mature iTunes media libraries.
And really, that’s the big feature here: The desktop application lets you sync your iTunes-based music (including playlists), photos, videos, podcasts, and ringtones to a Windows Phone 8 device.
Note: There’s a version of the desktop application for Mac as well. This replaces the old Mac Connector software.