I recently purchased a new Windows Phone 8 device (the Nokia Lumia 920) and discovered a much-improved mobile operating system compared with the previous Windows Phone 7.5. However, as much as I am enjoying the new phone, its increased speed and wider selection of functional apps, there is one thing that is a bit of a let-down.
In their wisdom to push users to Windows 8, Microsoft has removed compatibility with the Zune desktop syncing application. For Windows 7 users, this means the downloading and installation of a very stripped-down syncing tool. Windows 8 meanwhile doesn’t get the expected native syncing; instead they can install the same syncing tool from the Windows 8 Store.
How It Used to Be: Windows Phone 7 & Zune
Users of Windows Phone 7 devices will know that syncing was made possible via the Metro-style Zune desktop client, a sort of “Windows Media Player on acid”. Capable of playing MP3s, video clips and providing access to the Zune store and Windows Phone Marketplace, the Zune client has been dropped along with the Zune name in favour of Xbox Music. New Windows Phones have an Xbox Music app rather than a Zune player.
It’s bye-bye Zune time – but despite the problems this tool had, retiring Zune unfortunately means reduced sync functionality for Windows Phone 8 users.
For a Windows Phone 7 users, syncing was a case of connecting the phone to the PC. This would auto-launch the Zune app and sync whatever media types had been pre-set to sync between the devices.
Syncing is still possible for Windows Phone 8 devices with Windows 7 computers, but it’s a bit dirty.
Syncing a Windows Phone 8 Device With Windows 7
To sync your Windows Phone 8 with a Windows 7 PC, you will need to head to this Windows Phone page and hit the Download Now link to download and install the software. Once installed, you should be able to launch it by connecting your phone to your PC. Across the bottom of the sync tool you will see what storage has been used and by what types of data.
To sync data between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 7, select the PC option in the top left and then your chosen media type. Different settings are available for music, video, photos and ringtones. The sync tool will import folders from the Windows libraries, enabling you to select the folder you wish to sync with your phone.
A dedicated folder might be set up, or you can use the one named after your phone. Simply check the box and click Sync to copy the data from your phone to your computer. Subsequent connections will automatically sync these folders. Adding new folders will sync their contents between your phone and PC.
Via the Settings option you can select how data is synced; there are a couple of space-saving tools such as Resize photos to save space and Take up less space, while you can choose to sync music and videos from your libraries or from iTunes (yes, really!)
Note that if your music, photos, and videos views are empty, this is because you don’t have media in your Windows libraries. The best way to resolve this is to link your media folders to the Windows library folders.
Syncing Windows Phone 8 With Windows 8
Syncing with Windows 8 is pretty much the same, and possible via heading to the Windows 8 Store.
From here, browse the store or Search (via the Charms bar) to find the app, and then install. The sync tool will launch in the Desktop view and from here you can use it as described above.
Note that the sync tool isn’t necessarily needed for Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 blocked the use of devices as USB storage (unless you used a registry hack and a non-updated phone) but MTP has been introduced to Windows Phone 8. This means that you can browse the contents of the device from Windows Explorer and manually save data.
You know, I really should write a thank-you letter to Microsoft for literally handing this topic to me on a plate. Over the past few years they and their PR have worked had to vanquish the reputation of the “old Microsoft”, the monolithic corporate IT giant that didn’t give two hoots about its domestic consumers.
For me, however, killing Zune (for all its shortcomings) is as big a shot in the foot as killing Microsoft Money or removing Microsoft Picture Manager from Office. While the new sync tool is quite functional, it lacks the pizazz of Zune. While this reflects the move towards cloud-based services, it’s a shame to lose the regular use of Zune, which over the years has become my main music player.