Microsoft leaves Outlook 2010 64-bit customers with no hope of Windows Mobile support.
Sometimes you have to wonder how serious Microsoft is about their mobile product offerings. Sure they have all the marketing hoopla but the integration with Windows and Outlook is astonishingly poor – you’ve be forgiven for thinking they come from different, rival, companies.
Since Office 2010 is available in a 64-bit version and that’s been known inside Microsoft for a long time, you’d think that Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) layer for Windows 64-bit would be updated as well. Think again.
WMDC won’t work with Outlook 2010 64-bit edition at all. You get an unhelpful and misleading error message if you try:
“Either there is no default mail client or the current mail client cannot fulfill the messaging request. Please run Microsoft Outlook and set it as the default mail client“
It is an extraordinarily short-sighted decision in stark contrast to Apple’s quick move to support Outlook 2010 64-bit for all their portable devices.
The Office 2010 setup doesn’t warn you about this important compatibility issue – it would have been easy for Microsoft to do that and they should have done so.
Windows Mobile Device Center is the software that links a Windows computer to a Windows Mobile device. WMDC is the new name for the old ActiveSync software.
WMDC never worked very well. Too often it would not recognize a Windows Mobile device when it was plugged in and it’s very hard to get it working again.
Now Microsoft is saying that they have “no plans to update Windows Mobile Device Center to improve compatibility with Outlook 2010”.
So there you have it, you buy an ‘all Microsoft’ setup – Windows operating system, Microsoft Office and Microsoft mobile device – and Microsoft rewards you by refusing to support a connection between them.
There’s no commitment to changing this situation – Microsoft simply could not be bothered to properly support 64-bit customers even when using the company’s own mobile devices. It’s notable that the company carefully omitted this problem when talking about Office 2010 64-bit compatibility.
They are happy to suggest you ask add-in makers to support 64-bit Office 2010 – so where do Microsoft customers ask Microsoft to support their own products? Asking might be a waste of time since the company has apparently made up their mind to shaft Windows Mobile users.
The usual apologists for Microsoft are out there saying that Office 2010 is a ‘specialty platform’ (a phrase we’ve not seen from Microsoft itself) or pointing to the details of the release notes. While it’s true that Microsoft has been clear that some add-ins and code might not work on 64-bit Office 2010 – it’s entirely reasonable for customers to expect Microsoft to make the effort to enable a link between two flavors of the Windows operating system.
How to lose your Windows Mobile data
Would you like to have all your contacts, email and calendar details removed from a Windows Mobile device without warning? Incredibly, Microsoft has arranged a simple way to do that.
Install Outlook 2010 64-bit with a Windows Mobile sync already setup on that computer – if you do that the critical mobile data will be removed on the first ‘sync’.
It’s bad enough not to support 64-bit mobile sync, to ‘zap’ data from a device is unforgivable.
Microsoft’s suggested alternatives aren’t a lot of help. You can install Outlook 2010 32-bit edition, but that means losing the noticeable performance benefits available from 64-bit Outlook.
They point out that you can sync mail, contacts, calendar and tasks directly to an Exchange Server system – if only they made Exchange Server more readily available to individuals and tiny businesses. Or you can sync with Hotmail, Gmail. Yahoo and other email providers.
This suggestion ignores the cost of synchronization over mobile phone networks – but Microsoft doesn’t have to pay your mobile data fees so they don’t care.
CompanionLink has a range of Outlook sync products that work with Windows Mobile and Google Android devices among many. Prices start from $39.95. The company has explicitly supported Outlook 2010 64-bit since April 2010 If they can arrange sync software from Outlook 64-bit to a range of devices, why can’t Microsoft (with its considerably greater resources) sync to their own Windows Mobile devices?
Apple has their iPhone / iTouch / iPad and iPod devices. They can all sync data with Outlook 2010 64-bit, all you need is iTunes 9.2 or later. It’s noticeable that when you plug an Apple ‘i’ device into a Windows computer it is recognized and synchronized much more easily than one of Microsoft’s own mobile devices. Apple has always managed to support mobile devices on Windows better than Microsoft can for Microsoft devices.
Google hasn’t yet supported Outlook 2010 32 or 64-bit for their synchronization software but we’d be prepared to bet they’ll manage it before Microsoft bothers.
Despite the best will in the world, we’ve always found it hard to get behind Windows Mobile devices – now it seems Microsoft itself can’t be bothered supporting their own devices so customers are entitled to take their mobile phone money elsewhere.
Even if you don’t have 64-bit Office, when you’re buying a mobile device it’s worth keeping in mind Microsoft’s lack of real commitment to integration within Redmond’s own product lines.
What do you think of Microsoft’s support for their own mobile devices? Let us know – ‘points’ are scored for creativity and (publishable) invective
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