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Old 09-30-2011, 04:54 PM
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Windows Phone 7 Frustrations

I posted this to my blog last night, but thought I might get a few more responses here....

I recently switched to Windows Phone 7 from Windows Mobile, but I am awash in frustrations over being able to manage my calendar and contacts. My situation is as follows:
  • My phone needs to access my cooperate Outlook email, calendar, and contacts, along with my Gmail, and personal Yahoo accounts. (set #1 of calendar and contact entries)
  • My employer runs an Exchange Server with which my office computer (set #2 of calendar and contact entries) connects to via Outlook 2010. However access to the exchange server is not allowed away from the office environment, and I must resort to using IMAP for accessing my corporate email on my home computer.
  • At home I use Outlook 2010 to manage my cooperate and Yahoo email accounts (over IMAP and POP3 respectively), along with my calendar and contacts (set #3).

Previously using Windows Mobile, any changes I made to my calendar or contacts at the office would sync over-the-air with my phone, then they would be synced to my personal Outlook address book and calendar via a USB connection and Windows Mobile Device Center. If I made a change on my phone, it would update my office computer over-the-air via the exchange server, then would update my home computer via USB. Finally if I made a change on my home computer, once I synchronized it with my phone, my phone would be update to date, which would then cause my office Outlook to match.

The key here was that Windows Mobile had a single calendar and address book, and that everything synced to that single repository. Now with Windows Phone 7, each account I add to the phone can have a separate contact list, and calendar in addition to email inbox. My goal is to maintain separate inboxes, and maintain a single set of contacts and calendar entries.

One possible solution that I tried for about a week was to use the Outlook Windows Live Hotmail connector to create a repository of contacts and calendar entries. I was able to synchronize my home Outlook contacts and calendar appointments to it, and then at the office I could synchronize my work copy of Outlook to my Hotmail account. Then I set my phone’s address book and calendar to only display the Hotmail contacts and calendar. This worked, but with one big drawback. A while back I invested a good deal of time adding contact photos/business logos to each entry in my address book. This way I see their photo in the bottom right corner of an Outlook email. Note that not all of my contacts have a Facebook or other social media profile. Much to my frustration, this system of synchronizing my calendar and contacts had wiped away all of the contact photos ( I made a backup PST file first!) as Hotmail will only support an image if the contact has a Windows Live Messenger profile.

Now I am left without the ability to properly synchronize my Outlook experience across all three of my primary Microsoft clients. If I cannot solve this very annoying issue, I may be forced to revert to Windows Mobile, or at least running a Windows Mobile device as a hardware peripheral for synchronizing my data using both the Wi-Fi and USB connections to create a bridge. This does not seem ideal, and I am still feeling like “upgrading” to Windows Phone 7 was really a downgrade in key functionality, and the new tagline “put people first” is a taunt as I cannot organize (synchronize) my people (contacts) to be able to put them first.

My next attempt at keeping everything in sync will be using Google via a 3rd party sync tool. If Google is my only option to sync my data, it makes me rethink my loyalty to Windows Phone; maybe I should be open to Android in the future if this is not solved by Microsoft?

Any thoughts?