Windows XP Bluetooth Rant: One Year Later

In my blog from a year ago I ranted about the poor state of bluetooth in Windows at the time, and the pain in syncing my Sony Ericsson P800 phone over bluetooth. Its now 12 months later, XP SP2 has long since shipped, plus S/E have updated their sync software, so I thought I should revisit my scenario.

How I Bluetooth Sync Now

  • I right click on the little arrows on the taskbar and select "Connect to a Bluetooth Phone"
  • The normal XP "Select Bluetooth Device" browser dialog appears, and after about 10 seconds shows my phone, plus any other BT devices in the vicinity of my office.
  • I select my phone, click OK, then in another 10 seconds or so the little P900 icon appears on the taskbar.
  • I right click on it, select Synchronize. (There is an option aot auto-sync but I disabled it)
  • The Synchronize dialog appears, and after another 5-10 seconds I get the Outlook security alert dialog.
  • I have to hit the checkbox and select "10 minutes" and click OK
  • After one to five minutes, the sync finishes. It is faster if I give it focus.

If I walk away from my office out of range, then come back, I have to go through all of this again. It can't even remember my phone.

How I want to Bluetooth Sync

  • Walk up to my machine.
  • Little taskbar icon appears, asks me if I want to sync, click Yes. This is the only user interaction I want to have to do.
  • Syncs

Now that Windows has socket support for bluetooth, this should be possible, but S/E dont seem to want to give me this. My preferred option would be for Exchange Activesync, but that hasnt happened (yet) for Symbian OSes. Contrary to my blog on the subject, I haven't given up on my P800 yet. However if the next generation MS smartphone ships before I can get either a version of PC Suite that meets my above requirements, or better yet Exchange AS on my P800, I will finally switch.

Comments (12)

  1. Christopher C says:

    Things aren’t much prettier using a Windows Mobile device. I can’t sync my Audiovox 5600 via bluetooth at all because ActiveSync only supports COM ports in the 1-9 range. When I connect to my PC via bluetooth, it gets a Virtual COM Port in the 16 to 20 range, which prevents syncing.

    (Of course, since the SMT5600 happens to charge when connected to a USB port, I haven’t minded plugging it in 🙂

    – Christopher

  2. John D. says:

    I just got a Nokia 6600 with Tmobile. I couldn’t get Windows to properly recognize a bluetooth PC Card. I got it to recognize a USB bluetooth adapter, but hell if I can get the software to actually do anything. In the meantime, I’ve had absolutely no problem whatsoever getting the phone to work with a friend’s Mac. On the Mac there is even a third party utility to use a bluetooth phone to lock down a Mac (if out of range), use it as a remote control (itunes, presentations, etc.) and more. This was the final straw – I’m moving to Mac.

  3. Justin says:

    I have a Belkin BT USB. I simply can’t use it after a reboot. On a fresh machine it works the first time, then never again. I don’t know whether to be mad at Microsoft or Belkin, but I do know the error message is totally useless.

    I plug it in after a reboot, it says there is an unrecognised USB device, but there appears to be no way to tell XP that it is a Belkin Bluetooth USB – which it KNEW the first time I plugged it in!

    Pass me that magazine with the Linux article in… it really can’t be harder than this.

  4. John D. says:

    Andy, is this what you’re looking for?


  5. Moemen says:

    I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeed it very much please send me xp bluetooth support for nokia 3650.


  6. Lasse i Angered says:

    I recently bought Microsoft Keyboard Elite for Bluetooth. When I first connected it using my old Bluetooth dongle it lagged terribly. The mouse was unusable because of this. The same thing when I connect it to my IBM laptop with built-in blutooth support (using the mouse like this was the reason I got the package).

    When I changed the Bluetooth dongle to the one supplied with the mouse-keyboard package the lag disappeared, but the BT stack that comes with WinXP (which I didn’t use before) doesn’t seem to have support for the BT headset profile. What a mess.

    The idea of Bluetooth is perfect, but the software written so far is really bad. One can just hope that it gains in popularity, that would move it up on the priority list.

  7. Jono says:

    Check out the S/E K700i – if you actually get it to connect via bluetooth and your computer is set to use daylight saving or summertime and synch Outlook Appointments each appointment is moved an hour earlier on the phone. This of course become recursive – your appointents will continuously move backwards in time with each synch. Is this stuff ready for the consumer – No Way !!!.

  8. Jeremy says:

    it’s embarrassing ! OSX users have some awesome tools for syncing BT devices to their machines, controlling their machines and even managing their phones properly.

    WinXP – the market leading OS doesn’t even seem to have a decent selection of third party utilities to handle it yet.

  9. John D. says:

    John D. here again with an update. I got my 15" Apple PowerBook and it’s working flawlessly with bluetooth and my phone. For MS Office users, there’s a third party utility (conduit) to link Entourage ("Outlook") with iSync service (e2sync), plus MS has said it will build-in iSync support with a free update once OS 10.4 comes out (in the next month or so). I use iCal, Mail, and Address Book, so it all works perfectly as it is.

    I also wirelessly connect to my phone over bluetooth to access the internet! It’s not fast, but Tmobile offers unlimited access for $20/month. It’s about a 28.8-33.6 modem. And I can still make and receive phone calls while connected. The coverage, of course, is awesome. I never even take the phone out of my pocket.

    So I can use bluetooth for syncing, internet, remote control, security, and even waking up the PowerBook. Now I want a BT mouse and printer adapter.

    Moeman – get a Mac! 🙂 It has built-in support for the 3650. Life is short – get the tools you need AND want. I sold my XP noteboook, but kept my XP desktop as insurance, and remotely connect to it using MS’s remote desktop client.

    (Wait till you guys see the tools that will be built onto Apple’s built-in motion sensor! There’s an API for it and people are starting to use it for steering games and the like.)

  10. This one is for Justin who dropped a comment. The Belkin Bluetooth and Windows XP SP2 make terrible bedfellows. First of all the Belkin driver is unsigned so windows deselects it each time. It uses it’s own driver which doesnt enable the full Belkin functionality (belkin’s own software stack).

    Solution: go to Device Manager. You’ll find two entries for Bluetooth. Select the Belkin Bluetooth device, right click -> properties and click "Update Driver" button. Select have disk and select the Belkin Bluetooth install directory as source. Install driver even though windows warns it is unsigned. It works.

    The above solution should be done once right? Wrong. Windows "forgets" each time you reboot and you have to go over the solution again however… What I found is if I log off and logon again it works. And more problems. each time I do the above I have to reinstall (repair) iTunes to enable iPod to synch with Windows – iTunes moans that the helper app is corrupt. really messy this Bluetooth thing.

  11. ps: nice blog mr andy. good looking out

  12. Richard says:

    I bought a Dell laptop over a year ago. It uses Toshiba BT (latest v4.0…) and Intel 802.11 b/g. I have an XDAIIi phone with the very latest firmware. Not only can I not get ActiveSync to connect through bluetooth because Tosh assigns serial port COM40 and ActiveSync says in it’s help system it doesn’t accept ports above COM20. Turning Bluetooth on (an extra cost option) interferes with the Wireless network so that it drops out every 2 or 3 minutes. I (eventually after finding that the Tosh help references a user interface that it doesn’t contain) found a utility in the Control Panel "Bluetooth Local COM". In there, I set up a port on COM19 for ActiveSync but it STILL refuses to connect. Angry? I’m livid.

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