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Sync Outlook 2013 to a Microsoft Account

If you've installed Outlook 2013 to your computer, you can sync your Contacts, Calendar AND Tasks (yes, Tasks) to your Microsoft account and you don't need to install the Outlook Hotmail Connector to do it - the functionality is built into the software.

Once the data is synced to your Microsoft account, it is available to be synced to a wide array of devices (phones, tablets, computers) that encompass all the most popular mobile operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows Phone). You can enjoy the full power and feature set of Outlook 2013 on your desktop or laptop and be completely flexible in your choice and use of mobile devices!

This article will guide you through the steps to set up Outlook 2013 to sync your data to your Microsoft account.

First, you'll open up Outlook 2013 on your computer and click "File" >  +Add Account button (on the  Account Information screen).

Outlook Add Account

The "Add Account" screen shown below will be displayed and you can proceed with the "E-mail Account" option (which is selected by default) to let Outlook attempt to configure your account automatically or you can choose the "Manual setup" option to set the account up manually. 

1) Email Account: Let Outlook automatically configure your account

Input your Name, your Microsoft account email address (windows live or outlook.com) and Password in the spaces provided > click the "Next" button.

Outlook Email Account

Outlook will search for your mail server settings, configure the email account, and sync any related email, contacts, appointments or tasks from the Microsoft account to the computer.

Outlook Configuring

Then, "Congratulations! Your email account was successfully configured and is ready to use."

Outlook Success

When I selected this option, I ran into problems, so I selected the second "Manual setup or additional server types" option and manually configured my Microsoft account.

2) Manual setup or additional server types: Manually Configure the Account

ScreenShot027

Choose the service that matches the type of account you want to configure. 

ScreenShot022

Input your name, email address, mail server, and password in the spaces provided.  The Mail server that I used for:

  • outlook.com accounts is bay-m.hotmail
  • live.com accounts is blu-m.hotmail.com

ScreenShot028

Click the Next button. Outlook will test the account settings to verify a successful connection is achieved.

ScreenShot023

You've created the account and and when you click the finish button, Outlook will begin its first sync between the computer and the Microsoft account.

ScreenShot024

ScreenShot025

 

Converting your local Outlook folders to your newly created online folders

If you used an earlier version of Outlook to manage your Contacts, Appointments and Tasks from local personal folders and now want to sync this data to your online Microsoft account, you'll need to copy your Contact, Calendar, and Task data to the newly created folders that were created when you set up the Microsoft account on your computer. Unless you copy this data to these newly created folders none of your data will sync from your computer to your Microsoft account.

After you copy this data over to your newly created Microsoft account folders, you'll STOP adding any new data or modifying the records in the Personal folders that you want to sync to your Microsoft account. Instead you'll modify and add new entries to the folders in the new Microsoft account folders.

You may also want to change some Outlook account settings to make the conversion as transparent as possible.

I've detailed how to do these things in my article entitled "Using the Outlook Hotmail Connector". You can skip over the first part of the article that discusses the Outlook Hotmail Connection and focus on the sections of the article that are titled:

  • Copy Contact & Calendar data to the Windows Live folders and
  • Change Outlook Account Settings.

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Get Windows Mobile Applications Here

windowsmobile Microsoft closed down its Marketplace for Windows Mobile devices on May 9, 2012 and the Windows Mobile OS has been  discontinued. Many developers who used to create windows mobile software have moved on to support and develop for more modern mobile platforms and the pool of Windows Mobile apps is getting smaller and smaller every day.

Fortunately, you can still find software for a Windows Mobile device at some websites.

Links to Third Party Websites

These third party websites still sell and distribute Windows Mobile software:

Links to useful Windows Mobile software that you can get

Here are some links to some windows mobile software that you might find useful:

Link Description Free Paid
Adobe Reader 2.0 PDF Reader - download CAB file from my SugarSync account x  
       
CoPilot Live 8 GPS Navigational software   x
       
Google Maps   x  
       
Office Mobile 2010 Official version. Can be installed on WM6.5 devices x  
       
Office Mobile 2010 Unofficial version. x  
       
PIM Backup Backs up contacts, appointments, tasks, messages, call history. x  
       
SKTools Maintenance utility software   x
       
Spb Software     x
       
Total Commander File Explorer x  
       

 

You won't find Windows Mobile Software for Some Popular Apps

Many popular apps that you might want to use on a windows mobile device just are not available for this platform either because the developer discontinued them or, as is the case with many newer services, the developers of these services never created a version of their software to run on Windows Mobile devices. Some popular apps that are NOT available for windows mobile devices include:

I'll modify this article from time to time to keep it relevant, and I'll add more links to software as I become aware of them. You'll find my most up-to-date set of relevant links on my Delicious bookmarking service page - relevant links will have the #Windows Mobile tag.

Please share links to Windows Mobile software in the comments below.

You might also want to review this article entitled "I bought a piece of software, now what do I do?" to learn how to install software to a Windows Mobile device.

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Using the Outlook Hotmail Connector

PLEASE NOTE: This article was updated on 7/12/2013 (original publish date is 11/11/2010)

Windows Phones do not sync contacts and appointments directly to a local computer via any kind of USB connection or via ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center. Instead Windows Phones sync directly to data that is stored in the cloud, that is, it syncs to web-based services, such as Outlook.com (formerly known as Windows Live), Google, or Exchange Server accounts. 

When I got my first windows phone I also planned to continue using and syncing some of my older Windows Mobile devices to Outlook on my computer. So in anticipation of my first Windows Phone, I spent some time exploring the Outlook Hotmail Connector as a way to manage my contacts and appointments on my local computer while also providing a way to make the data available for my new Windows Phone.

This article is the product of my explorations. In this article you'll find all the information you need to get the Outlook Hotmail Connector running on your computer. Then you'll be able to sync your Windows Phone to your Microsoft account, and you'll still be able to enjoy the full functionality of the Outlook desktop software (and sync your older Windows Mobile devices to your computer).

Set up the Outlook Hotmail Connector

If you use Outlook 2003, 2007, or 2010, you'll need to install the Outlook Hotmail Connector to your computer.  The Outlook Hotmail Connector is an Add-in to Outlook that allows you to sync between the Outlook desktop software and a Microsoft account (i.e., hotmail, windows live, outlook.com accounts).  If you use Outlook 2013, you won't need to use the Outlook Hotmail Connector since Outlook 2013 incorporates this functionality into it.

First, download the Outlook Hotmail Connector and install it to your computer

After you've installed the Outlook Hotmail Connector to your computer, you'll be able to create the syncing relationship between Outlook and your Microsoft account.

Configure Outlook 2003

When you open up Outlook 2003, you'll see a "Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector" box with the question "Would you like to add a Hotmail Account?"  Select the Yes button.

Input your name, Microsoft account email address, and password in the spaces provided

 Outlook Connector 1

Click the OK button, then exit Outlook and restart Outlook.  When you restart Outlook, you should see your windows live folder in the Mail Folders panel. You will also find an Outlook Connector menu item has been added to the top navigational menu.  Give Outlook a few minutes to create and sync the Windows Live folder structure on the computer.

Configure Outlook 2007 or 2010

Open up Outlook 2007 or 2010 and click File > +Add Account

OHC2010

Input your name, Microsoft account email address, and password in the spaces provided

OHC2010autoaccountsetup

Click the Next button. Outlook will configure and test the account settings.

OHC2010configuring

OHC2010congratulations

Click the Finish button and then give Outlook a few minutes to create and sync the Windows Live folder structure to the computer.

 

Copy Contact & Calendar data to the Windows Live folders

The Outlook Hotmail Connector only syncs the data that is stored in the Contacts and Calendar folders within the Windows Live folder in Outlook...The Connector does not sync any data that is stored in the Personal folder. If you've been using Outlook for a while all your contacts and appointments are currently stored in folders within your Personal folder. To sync this data to your Microsoft account, you'll need to copy or move this data from your Personal folders to the newly created Windows Live folders. Afterwards you need to STOP adding new data or modifying the data in your Personal folders if you want these additions and edits to be synced to your Microsoft account.

Copy Contacts from the Local Contact folder to the Windows Live Contacts folder
  • Open up the Contacts Folder in Outlook's Personal Folders
  • Display the "Phone List" view
  • Select Edit > Select All (Ctrl+A)
  • Select Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C)
  • Select the Windows Live Contacts folder
  • Select Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V)
Copy Calendar from the Local Calendar folder to the Windows Live Calendar folder
  • Open up the Calendar Folder in Outlook's Personal Folders
  • Display the "All Appointments" view
  • Select Edit > Select All (Ctrl+A)
  • Select Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C)
  • Select the Windows Live Calendar folder
  • Select Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V)

Now you'll need to change a few Outlook account settings to make the transition as transparent as possible.

 

Change Outlook Account Settings

Open up Outlook on your computer:

  • Outlook 2003: select Tools > Account Settings
  • Outlook 2007 & 2010: select File > Account Settings > Account Settings

E-mail: If you're like me and use Outlook to manage several different POP/SMTP email accounts on your local computer, you'll want to check the E-mail tab to make sure your primary email account, which is not your windows live account, is set as your default account - otherwise all your email will be sent from your windows live account

Email Account Settings2

Data Files: The default data file is used to populate the data that is displayed in Outlook's To-Do Bar. You'll want to change the default data file from your Personal Folders to the Microsoft account you just created since that's where all your up-to-date data will be stored.

Select the Data Files tab > highlight your Windows Live ID account and set it as Default.

Email Account Settings1

Address Books:  Because you won't be using the Personal Folder to store contact information you'll select the Address Books tab and removed the personal folders from the list of Address Books

Email Account Settings3 

Now you can continue using Outlook to manage your contacts and appointments, continue syncing your older Windows Mobile devices to your computer, and sync your new Windows Phone to your Microsoft account.  Any changes you make to Outlook or to your Microsoft account will be synced.  Your contacts and appointments on your computer, your mobile devices and your Microsoft account will always be in sync with each other and up-to-date.

NOTE: Before you sync an older Windows Mobile device to your computer, you'll need to delete its earlier ActiveSync or WMDC partnership and set up a new partnership.

NOTE: If you are still syncing email to Outlook's Personal Folder, you'll need to leave your Personal Folders open.  Within this folder are folders for Calendar, Contacts, etc.  Since you won't be using the Calendar or Contacts folder, you can delete the information that is stored in these folders, but you won't be able to delete them.

Change your view:  You'll probably want to change the start up view of Outlook so the Windows Live folder is prominent. In Outlook 2007 and 2010, select File > Options > Advanced

Outlook advanced settingst

Syncing New Information & Edits

All new and edited data that is associated with your Microsoft account (email, contacts and appointments) is synced between Outlook and your Microsoft account whenever you send or retrieve email from within the Outlook desktop software.  You can set up a Send/Receive schedule for the Microsoft account you just created

  • Outlook 2003: Select Tools > Send/Receive > Send Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups
  • Outlook 2007 & 2010: Select Send/Receive > Send/Receive Groups > Define Send/Receive Groups

Outlook SendReceive Groups

You'll follow the prompts to eventually select your Microsoft account and set up your desired syncing options. 

Outlook SendReceive Settings

You'll notice that you can set your Send/Receive Groups to sync manually whenever you press the F9 button or automatically in time intervals you set. You can also perform an automatic send/receive whenever you exit the Outlook software.

 

What About Tasks?

When you install Outlook Connector, you'll see a new Tasks folder called "Tasks (This computer only)."  Unfortunately, this is just another local folder.  Even though this tasks folder is considered part of the windows live set of folders it does not get synced to Windows Live. 

If you plan to continue syncing to an older windows mobile device, you'll want to copy your tasks from the Tasks in Personal Folders to the Tasks (this computer only) folder.

I rely on tasks to keep me organized and so I had to figure out a way to workaround this huge deficiency. But I've settled on a workable solution, so stay tuned to the blog.  I'll be publishing another article about how to manage tasks on a Windows Phone that you might find useful.

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Posting to the blog from a Windows Phone 7

Diarist for Windows Phone is available in the marketplace. I've used this application on my Windows Mobile phones and my Pocket PCs and I'm glad that I can Use it on my Windows Phones.

The Diarist is free.  Go get it from the marketplace today!

Creating Playlists on Windows Phone

Creating playlists on windows phone isn't particularly difficult, but it's not particularly intuitive either.

Clear the "now playing" playlist

When you're listening to music and select the pause button to stop the music from playing, the music stops playing but before you work with playlists you need to completely clear the "now playing" playlist on the phone. 

You can clear the "now playing" playlist on the phone by powering down the phone and powering the phone back on or you can install the very useful and free "Stop the Music" app.  (Click this link to download the "Stop the Music" app)

Select music for your new playlist

Open up the music+videos hub, swipe over to the Zune screen (for Windows Phone 7) or the Collection screen (for Windows Phone 8), tap music.  Now select and add entire albums or individual songs to the phone's now playing playlist:

Add Entire Album to Playlist:  Find an album you want to add to your new playlist, press and hold your finger on the album until a popup menu appears, select "add to now playing. 

Add select songs to a playlist: Find the song you want to add to your playlist, press and hold your finger on the song until a popup menu appears, select "add to now playing"

Screen Capture (33) Screen Capture (25)

 

As soon as you select the first album or first song to add to your playlist, music will start playing.  Press the back button and find the next album or song you want to add to your playlist.  press and hold your finger on the album or song and select "add to now playing."  Proceed in this manner until you've selected all the music you want to add to your playlist.

Save your newly created playlist

When you're ready to save your playlist, press the volume button on the side of the phone.  You'll see the name of the song and album that is playing just under the volume controls

Tap the name of the song and you'll be taken to a screen that shows the album cover and name of the song that is currently playing on the phone.

Screen Capture (26) Screen Capture (30)

Now tap the three dots in the lower right hand corner of the screen, then select "save as playlist."

Input a playlist name in the dialogue box, tap the arrow to save it.

Screen Capture (31)

Screen Capture (32)

Now you can find your newly created playlist by tapping the music+video tile on the phone, swipe over to the Zune screen (for Windows Phone 7) or the Collection screen (for Windows Phone 8) and swiping over to the playlists screen.

 

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Consolidate & Convert VoiceMail Messages

PLEASE NOTE:  The Youmail service is available in the United States and Canada only. 

If you receive voicemail messages via email, you may have encountered a problem listening to .wav formatted messages on your Windows Phone.  Apparently some service providers use old codecs for their .wav formatted messages that are not compatible with Windows Phone.

I ran into this problem with voicemail messages I received from a VOIP service I use. I figured out a quick and easy way to convert the .WAV messages to .MP3 format that can be played on my phone.  All you need to do is:

1. Sign up for a free YouMail account.

I have used YouMail for several years to replace my cellphone carrier's voicemail service.  YouMail provides a lot of really great controls over voicemail, but you don't have to use it to replace your cellphone voicemail unless you want to.

2. Set up YouMail account to email your voicemail messages to you as attached MP3 files.

After you've signed up for YouMail, change your account settings by selecting Settings > My Alerts (found under the My Account heading) > set the "Email Alerts" options to receive email "when someone leaves you a voicemail", to format your email alerts as "HTML E-Mail" and to include audio attachments as MP3 files, as shown in the  screen print below. 

YouMail will convert WAV files that are forwarded to your YouMail account to MP3 files and then email your voicemail messages as MP3 files.

YouMail Email Alerts

3.  Forward your .WAV voicemail messages to your unique YouMail email address

When you set up a YouMail account, you were required to associate it with your cellphone number.  Your unique YouMail email address is the cellphone number you used when you set up your YouMail account + @my.youmail.com (it will look something like 1231234567@my.youmail.com). 

Now go change the email account that your voicemail service provider uses to delivery your voicemail messages to you from your original email account to your unique YouMail email address.  If you are unable to change the email address directly with your voicemail service provider, you can forward your received email to your YouMail email address (perhaps by setting up a Rule in your email account).

 

An added benefit of setting up a YouMail account is that you can also use MagikMail, a windows phone app that works with YouMail, to organize and manage all your voicemail messages (if you feel so inclined).

I hope you find this workaround useful.  If you have any questions or can contribute feedback to this article, please post a comment.

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Windows Phone & Ringtone Profiles

The Windows Phone OS does not include any kind of ringtone profiles that allow you to automatically program how incoming phone calls are received on the phone. I've come up with a workaround that addresses this deficiency well enough to suit my needs and thought I'd share it here for anyone who might be interested.

First, I created a "silent" ringtone and synced it to my phone.  I assigned this silent ringtone as the system-wide ringtone on my phone:

  • Download my silent ringtone (this ringtones complies with all the requirements of using a custom ringtone on windows phones, so no editing is necessary)
  • Sync the silent ringtone to your phone
  • Assign the silent ringtone as the system-wide ringtone on your phone by tapping Settings > ringtones+sounds.  Tap the Ringtone option and select the Silent ringtone from your list of custom ringtones.

Secondly, I assigned a different ringtone to the contacts for whom I always want to receive calls (close friends, family, my boss) most any time of the day or night:

  • On the phone, tap the people hub tile. Find one of your VIP contacts and tap the contact to open it up, then tap the pencil icon on the bottom of the screen to edit it.
  • Tap the ringtone option and select the ringtone you want to assign to the contact.

When the phone rings, the phone screen still lights up, but I don't hear the phone ringing unless the person calling is one of my important contacts.  If I don't answer the phone, the calls are forwarded to my voicemail.

When I'm at a place or function where I don't want to receive any phone calls (like a funeral, the symphony, the movie theater, at church or synagogue, etc.), I turn OFF the ringtone for all calls by tapping Settings > ringtones+sounds > tap the Ringer toggle switch to the OFF position or by pressing the volume slider on the side of the phone and tapping the sound control icon at the top of the screen.

When I'm at a place where I want to receive all calls, I can change the system-wide ringtone from the silent ringtone to a "sounded" ringtone.

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Stop the Music!

volume rockerThere is no stop button on Windows Phone.  When you're listening to something on the phone (the FM radio, music, a podcast, etc) and you press the volume rocker on the side of the phone to bring up the audio controls, you can move the volume audio up and down, and you can tap the onscreen control icons to go back or fast forward within the file or tap the middle icon to pause or resume the play, but you can't actually turn the player off.  The only way to permanently stop something from playing or to turn the player off is by performing a power cycle on the phone (also known as rebooting the phone).

When I got my first windows phone, I didn't really see the need for a way to turn off the player..pausing music was fine with me! But the more I worked with the phone the more annoying it got not being able to stop and close music on the phone. 

I was glad to discover the Stop the Music! app in the marketplace.

Stop the Music! is an elegantly simple application. When you open the app up and select the settings icon on the lower edge of the screen you can toggle some settings on and off (see screenshot on the left below).  I really like the "Show in Music+Video hub history" option.

You can also select the tile that you'd like to see the phone start screen if you pin the application to the start screen (see screenshot on the right).

StoptheMusicSettingsStoptheMusicButton

 

Stop the Music! is integrated into the Music+Video hub on the apps screen (see the 6th item under the apps heading in the left screenshot below).  If you turn the "Show in Music+Video hub history" option on, you'll also see a button in the history screen (see the 1st tile under the history heading in the right screenshot below)

StoptheMusicButtonMusicHub1 StoptheMusicButtonMusicHub2

 

When you tap the button or open the app from the programs menu, music will be stopped (if you've turned on the "automatically stop the music" option in the settings) and then when you press the volume rocker on the side of the phone, you'll only see the volume level and no forward, backward or pause/resume key.

StoptheMusic1 volume rocker2

Stop The Music! also follows good application development principles by providing an easy way to contact the developer directly from the app (see the left screenshot below) and by providing a fairly comprehensive revision history of the app (see the right screenshot below).

StoptheMusicAbout StoptheMusicButtonHistory

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Create Audacious Ringtones for your Windows Phone

Since the upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5 (also known as the Mango upgrade), I've been able to use custom ringtones on my Windows Phones, but I didn't get around to creating and syncing any custom ringtones until a few weeks ago.

There are some very specific requirements that must be followed in order to use custom ringtones on a windows phone, namely audio files must:

  • be in MP3 or WMA format
  • be less than 40 seconds long
  • be no larger than 1 mbs
  • not be protected with digital rights management (DRM)
  • be assigned to the RINGTONE genre in its metadata

With these requirements in mind, you can create ringtones from your favorite tunes or you can download already formatted ringtones and sync them to your phone.

I recently purchased a few ringtones to use on my phone. Before I could use the ringtones on my phone, I had to edit them to make them conform to these requirements.  First I had to shorten them, and then I had to change the genre to RINGTONE.

Shorten Tunes to less than 40 seconds with Audacity

I use Audacity, a free audio editor and recorder which can be downloaded here, to create ringtones from songs and to modify purchased ringtones.  Audacity has lots of features that you won't need to use and it isn't the easiest software I've ever used so I'll step you through the process of creating a custom ringtone.

After you install the Audacity software to your computer open it up and select File > Open > navigate to the folder where you've placed the tunes you plan to use as ringtones.  Select a tune to import it into the Audacity software for editing.

Audacity1

Toolbars:  Just under the menu bar you'll see the Toolbar with several tools you can use.  On the left hand side of the Toolbar, you'll see 6 control keys that can be used to playback or record tunes. You can select the green forward triangle to listen to the tune, select the blue double bars to pause the tune, select the yellow square to stop the tune, and so forth.  To the right of the playback/record keys you find editing tools to cut, copy, paste, pieces of the tune, tools to adjust playback levels (if you want to make the tune louder you'll want to explore these tools).

Timeline:  Just below the toolbars, you'll see the timeline which is a horizontal ruler above the tracks that measure the time from 0 (the start of the track) to the end of the track.  The tune in the above screenshot is approximately 2:50 minutes long.

Tracks:  Underneath the timeline you can see the audio tracks for the tune.  Since this tune is in stereo, there are two tracks which represent the left channel (the upper waveform) and the right channel (the lower waveform).

Listen to the tune to determine the portion you want to use as your custom ringtone.  You can select the portion of the tune to be your custom ringtone by clicking the Selection Tool (which I've circled in red in the screenshot below).

Then move your cursor into the Tracks area and highlight no more than 40 seconds' worth of the tune. You can see in the screenshot below that I've selected the portion of the tune that starts around 45 seconds and runs until 1:15.

Audacity2

Select File > Export Selection > give the Ringtone a name and save it as an MP3 or WMA formatted file.

Audacity Import

When you select the Save button, an Edit Metadata box will open up and you can change the Genre to RINGTONE (you can see this particular tune's Genre was originally shown as "Soundtrack" in the screenshot below).  After you edit the Genre field to change it to RINGTONE, select Add > Ok and your new ringtone will be created.

Audacity Metadata

Sync your custom ringtone to your phone

Now all you need to do is sync your ringtone to your phone via the Zune desktop software.

First, connect your phone to your computer via the USB cable or wirelessly (if you've set it up to sync wirelessly). 

Check to make sure you've added your Ringtone folder to the list of Monitored folders:  Open up the Zune software, select SETTINGS (found in the upper right hand corner of the screen) >  SOFTWARE > COLLECTION > Monitored folders.  If your Ringtone folder is not already included in your list of monitored folders, add it by selecting the ADD FOLDER button.

Zune Monitored Folders

Select the back arrow in the upper left hand corner of the screen.  Select Collection > Music > Genres (found in the right panel) > RINGTONE (found in the left panel).

Zune Genre Ringtone

Find your custom ringtone in the right hand panel, right click on it.  From the popup menu, select "Sync with.." to sync to your connected phone or you can drag the ringtone to the phone icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen.

After you disconnect your phone from your computer, you can find and assign your ringtone by tapping Settings > ringtones+sounds > tap the Ringtone box and review the ringtones under the "Custom" heading.

ringtone2 ringtone1

If you want to assign your custom ringtone to a contact, open up the People hub, select the person that you want to assign the ringtone to and tap the edit icon on the bottom of the screen.  Then tap the +ringtone option and select your ringtone from the list.

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Dear Windows Phone App Developer

375534_10150455019558772_8195378771_8660570_1530519104_n I've been using a Windows Phone now for more than a year and I've tried out a lot of apps in the marketplace.  I've installed and uninstalled lots of apps that weren't ready for prime time use, and I've avoided lots of apps that sounded interesting, but didn't offer some core functionality. I've put together a list of things I look for in applications and thought I'd share them here, so here goes!

Provide a trial version: I've been burned in the past when I've purchased software without trying it first and I won't make that mistake again.  My rule of thumb is: If I can't try first, I won't buy.

Windows Phone Marketplace

Let me buy an ad-free version of your app: I like software, and if I like your trial software, I most likely will want to purchase an ad-free version of it, so please also offer a paid version of your app.

Give me a way to import data into the app from the web: If an app is data intensive and the only way to get data into the app is by manually keying it into the phone, I probably won't even bother to download it from the Marketplace. Using the phone's keyboard to enter data is too tedious and time consuming. . . I'm a touch typist and prefer to use my computer's full sized keyboard and screen to input data into applications.  Also, it's entirely likely I've already built a database in Excel or some other software on my computer and I'd really like a way to import a .csv file into your app.

 iMediaMan contact info    

Let me backup the data that is stored in your app to the web in a format I can use: I'm not going to invest a lot of time inputting unique data into an app that can't be backed up any where.  This requirement is especially critical to me since Microsoft doesn't provide a way to backup the entire contents of my phone.  I'd hate to lose my data if I ever have to hard reset my phone, and I also need a way to get my data back into your app when I install it to my new phone.

eWallet backup

Include support contact information in your app that is easy to find and use from the phone in case I need some support or have some ideas to share with you.

magikmail contact infothumba support info

Please provide detailed help that I can access from my phone, especially if your app has lots of features or is complicated to setup or use.  I prefer to access help directly from the phone, either by tapping a link within the app or by viewing help topics within the app itself.

 eWallet support overdrive help

I'd like to review a change log whenever you update your app, preferably via a screen or link within the app on the phone, that documents the items that have been changed or added to the app.  If you've added some great new feature tell me about it! Then let me know how to get to it and how to use it.

thumba changelogthumba changelog1

Give your app a name that makes it easy for me to find after I install it to my phone. Clever names are cute, but when I'm searching through the long list of apps that are installed on my phone I might not remember your clever name, but I'm sure I'll remember a functional name.

Assign meaningful and comprehensive tags to your app so I can find it when I search the marketplace.  You might have a really great app, but I'm never going to know about it or install it to my phone if I can't find it.

Make an extra effort to include a well written description of your app in the Marketplace.  Highlight what you like about the app, tell me why I'd want to install it to my phone.  Give me a compelling reason why I'd like to try it out.  If your app doesn't do something that you know I'd want because of a limitation in the SDK tell me about it so I won't harshly judge your app for something that is outside your control.

Be sure to check the spelling and grammar in your app's marketplace description. When I see misspelled words and/or poor grammar in the app's marketplace description I can't help but wonder how detail oriented the developer is which leads me to question the quality of the coding and testing of the app.  If you are writing an app description in a language that is not your primary language, ask someone who is proficient in that language to proof your description.

Please don't stop at one app.  If I try out and like your really great app, I'm going to check to see if you've got more apps in the marketplace.  A good impression will make me want to buy more apps from you.

Ask for my help.  If you'd like more feedback about what a user wants in an app, please ask!  I've got some specific ideas about what I want and I'm happy to share them with you.  The marketplace now supports the capability of offering alpha and beta tests of apps to a select group of users, so let me know if I can help.

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Hi! I'm Julie. I've been a Microsoft MVP for the last 7 years, specializing in windows phone consumer (and before that windows mobile). Maybe you've seen me on the forums I frequent. More >>



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SNIPPETS OF BITS & BYTES

Snippets is my "lighter" blog, where you can read about some of the other things I'm fiddling around with on my computer and my mobile devices. Here are some recent articles:

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