Friday, February 20, 2009

Syncing Vista Windows Contacts with Windows Mobile without Outlook

Yes this is it, the answer you've all been looking for. I will save my rants for the second half of this post. First, I'm just going to tell you how you can sync your Windows Contacts with your Windows Mobile device without using Microsoft Outlook. This is the (absolutely free) way to sync your contacts.

Yes, Vista comes with Windows Mail, which it clearly states is the updated version of Outlook. Well, even though that is so, *surprise!* it is now completely obsolete, as Microsoft has decided to create something new called Windows Live Mail (I love how they create new programs named almost exactly the same thing). At least it's free.

So here it goes:
  1. Export your Windows Contacts as a .CSV file (yes, get ready to not use your Windows Contacts anymore... evidently Microsoft really wants you to use the cloud).
  2. If you don't have a Windows Live account (Microsoft's version of what Google's been doing for a long time), then create one (it's free).
  3. Import your Windows Contacts .CSV file into your Windows Live account. Don't be confused when they call your Windows Live mail account Hotmail (yes, I thought Hotmail was dead too). Or maybe they won't call it Hotmail. It depends what page you're on. Microsoft seems to be even more confused than we are about this whole mess.
  4. Download Windows Live Mail (yes, it's actually a program you have to download onto your computer; this replaces Windows Mail... don't ask). As a side note: as soon as the install asked me if I wanted to make Windows Live Mail my default e-mail program I screamed "HELL NO" and made the appropriate selections. However, this is now where I maintain my contact information.
  5. If it's not already on your Windows Mobile device, install Windows Live on there (it's basically a proprietary Exchange Server that works only with Windows Live).
  6. Open Windows Live on your mobile device and click "sync."
  7. Cross your fingers, pray, do whatever it is you do to make the universe treat you right. Your Windows Contacts should now be synced with your mobile device.
  8. Make sure you use Windows Live Mail to maintain your contact information on your computer from now on.
NOTE: if you don't need your contacts on your computer, you don't really need to download Windows Live Mail. You can just maintain all your contacts online via your account. Then, sync your online contacts to your phone with Windows Live as above.

Now for the rant...

First of all, I want to express my extreme frustration and anger with Microsoft for making it so incredibly difficult to simply sync your Vista contacts with your mobile device. They made Vista right? They made WinMo right? WTF?! I spent nearly a week trying to figure this thing out, coming across countless posts, threads, etc... with people clamoring for a solution to this problem.

Why in the world would Microsoft make this so hard?! Do they not realize how much they are pissing off their client base? It's enough to make somebody switch to Mac.

Other questions that came up while searching for the answers... How many times will Microsoft change the name of a program/system? Outlook Express? Windows Mail? Windows Live Mail? Hotmail? Windows Live? What does it all mean?! Next time, try and make it a little more confusing.

I could go on and on and on, ranting about how I want to gouge out the eyes of whomever is in charge of this new Windows Live mess, but I'm tired, and I'm sick of anything and everything involved with this topic.

Hopefully this workaround helps out anyone looking for a non-Outlook sync solution until Microsoft gets their shit together and actually integrates a simple and easy way to sync your computer contacts and mobile device contacts (is that too much too ask?).



Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this. I will try it as soon as I get a chance. Re: the 2nd half of your are totally right. I am so sick of MS making everything so hard! I use Outlook ONLY to sync my notes to my BB and because it has the prettiest emails (sorry Google). Other than that, I am really thinking of throwing out my WinMo phone (which I also have)and getting an iPhone and a MacBook Pro.

The Invisible said...

Glad to be of help, Pam.

Regarding the switch to an iPhone. I like my WinMo device over an iPhone for the same reason I like my PC over a Mac. You've got more control.

With my Omnia, I can change the battery (and get an extra... not to mention it already lasts longer in the first place). I've also got removable media. And in an odd Mac vs. PC switch, I happen to think the Omnia looks cooler than the iPhone, too.

Yeah, it's a pain to have to always find a workaround (instead of having it just work right in the first place), but I find that once I find the answer, the PC device often works better, tailored specifically to my needs.

Thanks again for checking in!

vancouverrob said...

Thanks for this. Having the same frustration as you syncing up my contacts. I think I've finally gotten it.

Thanks for your post.

Udayakiran said...

Wow!!! Thx a lot... U saved my life... Got scared i'd have to manually enter my 500 odd contacts when i switched to a WinMo...

The Invisible said...

I hear you. When I was getting the "you don't have Outlook" message, I was terrified that I was going to have to manually type in all my contacts! Ugh.

It still took forever to go through all my Google and Live contacts and remove duplicates, merge similar contacts, specifically merge Google Contacts with Outlook/Live contacts (Google only has one field for "name" as opposed to MS multiple fields for "first," "last," "nickname," etc., which I prefer).

Anyway, glad to help!

Anonymous said...

Great guide, thanks so much. Even if I WOULD pirate outlook, I don't want more strange new office 2007 junk. The interface is worse than my super nintendo. The reason why all Microsoft products are so split up is because of the EU. The European Union holds fair competition laws which limit Microsoft's ability to integrate all these vital functions into their OS. When XP was released, the EU made Microsoft take back all the coppies of it and reproduce them without Windows messenger (which later became MSN messenger and then Windows Live messenger) and Windows Media Player. The EU gave the reason that these free applications being included undercut the market for other media players and messengers.

No doubt MS is still affraid of another shipment block, which is why windows mobile and windows are separate. If they were pre-configured for interconnection then the EU would attack them about Nokia(Europe's pretty-much-only phone manufacturer)'s right to make smartphones.

Alexis said...

I had one bad problem with damaged mails and me helped-how to view ost files.This tool I found in inet and as far as I know it is free.But moreover utility can recover *.ost files, when Microsoft Exchange Server gets out of order and your data may be lost.

Merle W. said...

For those of you who don't like working with Microsoft, you can use this workound. All free and keeps desktop and windows mobile 6 all syncronized live via the web.

1. setup a free gmail account with google

2. Install Thunderbird for your desktop email(an excellent free email program)

3. Setup google's mobile sync program,

4. Instal a plugin to sync gmail contacts with Thunderbird. The following link provides a plugin that syncs google contacts with Thunderbird.

5. Enjoy everything synced without MS help all for free.

6. Smile broadly

Alexis said...

Some time ago I executed archivation and after some my important data were lost.I recovered almost all data except this situation friend advised me-fix outlook .ost.As far as he say tool is free.Program recovered all my data and I knew about next feature,it can xtract your tasks, emails and contacts from *.ost file, since these files are stored in encrypted format.

Anonymous said...

I have been using Microsoft MyPhone to transfer my contacts, music, pictures and even some backup files back and forth freely and it has not failed me yet. However, I do regret that they force you into using Outlook in more ways than 1. When I heard that Samsung had released my Omnia i910's ROM update I thought I was good to go till I soon realized that the official download also requires you to sync up with Outlook before proceeding. I have outlook express and really don't use it either but I am always on the lookout for a workaround for this Outlook issue.

The Invisible said...

There is some misinformation in the above post. The new Omnia i910 ROM does NOT require you to sync with Outlook. I don't have Outlook (and never will).

I have updated to the new official ROM, and I am still using the Windows Live method of keeping my contacts synced with an online/computer location (and syncing my calendar with Google Calendar using Nuevasync).

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank you for posting the process for syncing Vista Contacts to Windows Mobile in a way that someone not tech-savy like me could follow. Much appreciated.

James Cooper-Stanbury said...

I just dont understand why windows downt have a simple way to import or export contacts through a 'contacts center' or similar, that way, i could import a csv from my nokia phone, and then sync windows contacts with my ipod touch!

The Invisible said...

You should be able to do exactly that using the method above.

Unknown said...

Somehow I couldn't connect to windows live from my mobile (HTC-Touch pro), and in contacts in Live Mail I couldn't connect either (Live Mail could contact).

But I managed to get the contacts over using the following method:

1 Export contacts to VCF files
2 Using Bluetooth sent the contacts to my mobile (only 16 per sent task)
3 On my mobile it was possible to import the contacts all at once

However this isn't a sync, it's a workaround that could work for incidental copy.

The Invisible said...

Hi, TonPlomp! Did you install Windows Live on your phone? There is an actual application that I believe is necessary to sync to your online contacts on Windows Live. The application should be linked in the original post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your views and click on the link to get a latest version from windows live mail helps and support.
Windows Live Mail Help & Support
Thank you
Aalia lyon