Working with Outlook and the Windows Mobile Device Center

Recently I was reading up on the beta for Microsoft MyPhone, which is a new online service to back up and sync data from your Windows Mobile 6 (and higher) device. I wanted to see where I could connect Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 or later to the service and use MyPhone as a conduit between the desktop and the mobile device. Apparently, that’s not going to be an option.

To sync a mobile device with Outlook on your desktop, if you're on Windows Vista or later, use the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) 6.1. If you're on Windows XP or earlier use Microsoft ActiveSync 4.5. With a well-managed mailbox on Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or later, an initial over-the-air mailbox synchronization may be fine, but with some Windows mobile devices or for large initial syncs, it may be more beneficial to use the desktop to update a device using the Outlook client. WMDC is more of a tool for managing your Windows Mobile devices, including retrieving updates from Microsoft or importing media (like pictures from the built-in camera) from the device, but it can also be used to maintain synchronization with Outlook.

WMDC 6.1 is a free download from Microsoft; however, Microsoft validation is required. WMDC is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

After installation, WMDC needs to partner with your mobile device, which should first be connected to your workstation, typically through USB. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth, DMA, or one of the COM ports. Figure 1 shows the connection settings between a workstation and a Windows mobile device. In establishing the initial partnership, WMDC asks which types of items should be synchronized, as shown in Figure 2. In addition to Contacts, Calendar, E-mail, Tasks, Notes, and Mobile Favorites, you can also sync Files between Windows and the device.

You can control which data source, Outlook’s or the mobile device’s, is authoritative. That is, in the event of duplication, you can determine which content will override the other. Do this by going to the WMDC Mobile Device Settings and selecting the Manage a Partnership option. The WMDC interface (seen in Figure 3) appears to have been designed in the style of the Windows Media Center—bright colors with large buttons accompanied by simple, yet descriptive text. When you click Manage a Partnership, the options change to the settings shown in Figure 4. Here you you have the option of telling the WMDC whether to Replace items on desktop or Replace items on device if there is a conflict. Choose carefully, you certainly don’t want to overwrite the wrong content. Otherwise, by default a synchronization won't overwrite newer items with older versions in either direction.

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