With the upcoming Windows Vista release I thought I'd publish a blog article on the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC)  I also managed to grab some screenshots when I was working with our PM - Prithvi so I thought I'd share those too!

So what is the Windows Mobile Device Center?

Well firstly it's the Synchronisation client for Windows Vista.  Activesync is not compatible with Windows Vista...

It's been in Public Beta since early October and is scheduled to ship with Vista later this year.

It's compatible with Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5.0 and future releases of Windows Mobile devices. 

In terms of the key features it's been designed for easy device setup and management as well as having an intuitive user interface.

You can connect to WMDC via Bluetooth and USB but not WiFi (this was removed from Activesync sometime ago due to security concerns from customers  - I know is always very vocal about this)


So why as an Enterprise should be excited about Windows Mobile Device Center?  There are three reasons:

1) It's integrated into Vista so no deployment.

2) It's updated via Windows Update - so no need to redeploy later releases.

3) It can be enabled/disabled via Group Policy!


So let me dive a little deeper into the functionality....


Setup Experience

Previously some customers had challenges with setting their device up with Activesync - with WMDC we have tried to make that experience much simpler! 

Firstly the Windows Mobile Generic device drivers are preloaded on Windows Vista, then when the device is connected to your computer, WMDC is downloaded through Windows Update or if you don't have an Internet Connection the WMDC is available on the Getting Started Disc that will come with your device. 

Once your device has been recognised the setup process will begin offering you the options to setup and configure your device to sync email, calendar, contacts, tasks, music etc....

If you don't want to setup the device and simply want to have a 'guest' partnership you can click on 'Connect without setting up your device'

User Interface

The UI in WMDC has been brought right up to date and aligned with Vista and now offers a much easier way of managing your device from your PC.

Firstly - you can quickly see if you are connected and what device you are using with device specific images.

It's also much easier to setup and work with your files and synchronisation settings.  The key content items are highlighted and then there are options behind those to make tasks simpler. 

If you want to easily setup your device to talk with your Microsoft Exchange Server you can setup that really quickly and easily using the integrated wizard (there are also wizards for other email options such as POP3 and IMAP)  

 It's also much simpler to sync and transfer Microsoft Office documents and other content...

One of my favourite features is the ease with which you can synchronise music from WMP11 in Vista as well as importing pictures from your mobile device.  If you select the Pictures Music and Video option - WMDC automatically highlights the number of pictures or videos on your device that it could import. 

When you then click on the icon to import them you also get the option to automatically tag the pictures and have them placed straight into your My Pictures folder!

You can also quickly get to the device storage to copy files or just browse the device!


So if you are running Windows Vista RC1 or RC2 - plug in your Windows Mobile Device and you will then see the WMDC option in Windows Update.... give it a try and let me know how you get on!

Feel free to post any questions you may have!

Comments (47)
  1. Jason Langridge, the Windows Mobile Guru himself, has posted an overview of the new way Vista handles

  2. mvan says:

    Does it still only allow sync with outlook or will it support the integrated applications in vista (cal, address book & mail)? I think its a lost opportunity to exclude the integrated vista apps from mobile sync as for most people (ie majority of consumers) outlook is not needed (duplicates cal/mail/contacts and the exchange side is a bit of overkill). Having the integrated apps sync would help drive more wm5 sales in the non-business market (ie the vast majority!).

  3. This is a pretty good overview of the functionality and features for the Windows Mobile Device Center

  4. Richard Jones says:

    Nice one Jason.

    How did you do you’re screenshots?   Love the drop shadow.

  5. Jason says:

    mvan – it still allows sync with Outlook but not the integrated Vista Mail application unfortunately 🙁

  6. Jason says:

    Richard – you can thank Office 2007 for those screenshots and shadows 🙂

  7. Mike Hudgell says:

    Is the programming interface for custom ASSP (or the WMDC equivalent) documented yet?

  8. MSDNArchive says:

    Mike- not that I’ve seen yet.

  9. mscdex says:

    So I guess PocketPC2002 and PocketPC2000 users are left completely in the dust then. 🙁

  10. MSDNArchive says:

    mscdex – yes – unfortunately WMDC won’t support Pocket PC 2002 nor 2000 – I’m not sure that will be many people as if you are using a up to 6 year old device – I’d doubt you would be running the latest version of Windows 😉

  11. AMDenis says:

    I know that lots of activesync users have coped with the wi-fi-sync limitations. Is there any opportunity to do that in Vista, for example make kinda COM-port pr smth?

  12. mscdex says:

    You’d be surprised at the number of people that use Handheld PCs like myself 😉

    Having the latest OS is always a good thing to have, whether or not I have relatively old devices. 🙂

  13. maurice atkinson says:

    Jason be aware that with OneCare firewall enabled, WMDC cannot connect to Windows Mobile-based Smartphone. Once firewall is disabled, WMDC works as expected.

  14. MSDNArchive says:

    AMdenis – nope you can’t I’m afraid 🙁

  15. MSDNArchive says:

    Maurice – you should be able to add in the ports for the WMDC sync – or you can revert back to Serial mode

  16. Dustin says:

    So, I plugged my SMT5600 into my Vista RC2 box, and I don’t get any WMDC in Windows Update…

  17. viliamr says:

    One question:

    this windows mobile device center is still in beta and has to be d/l manually from microsoft website?

    I’m asking this because I can’t find it in Vista RTM release…

  18. Mike says:

    I tried to connect my Motorola Q to WMDC, but no joy.  I just says "disconnected."  The USB and Bluetooth connections say they’re working, but no connection with WMDC.  

    Am I missing something, or is the SW not ready for the MQ yet?

    Thanks for any help!


  19. MSDNArchive says:

    Mike, Viliamr  

    What version of Vista are you running?

    If you connect your device once you then just need to go to Windows Update – start an update and it will find WMDC.


  20. Joe says:

    I’m in there with Mike and Viliamr. Running the RTM release (build 6000), but all I get when connecting in an AutoPlay dialog with various boring choices 🙂 (Open folder to view files, Sync media with Windows Media Player). No WMDC.

    I did a Windows Update, and though it said it found no updates, WMDC did magically appear in the Control Panel. BUT, when you open WMDC, all you get is the "Connection Settings" dialog, where Allow USB connections is checked. If you click OK, the dialog goes away, but nothing else happens.

    Same if you disconnect and reconnect the phone.

  21. Greg says:

    Installed Mobile Device Center on released MSDN vista bits.  Looks slick.  Runs smooth.  One major gripe so far…

    The "Server address:" field on the "Change Exchange Server Settings" is way too limited on .Text length.  The full path to my company’s server is 61 characters.  

    Dropping https:// saves only 8, leaving my full path at 53 characters.  Your limit is 50.  I don’t see a reason why this limit is in place…

    Is this value stored somewhere in an assembly config file somewhere that I can modify behind the app’s back?

  22. Dan says:

    I am running RTM release (build 6000) and have exactly same experience described by Joe above (Nov 17@1:20PM)

  23. Martin says:

    I have the same problem as Jo and Dan

  24. Matt Sharpe says:

    Running final Vista, can’t get WMDC.

  25. Same problem with Vista RTM. Can’t sync up with a Qtek 9100 running Windows Mobile 5.0.

    There’s a Windows Mobile device showing up on Device Settings.

    Sync Center shows "Offline Files", "Storage Card" and another item seemingly linked to Windows Media Player sync.

    But nowhere can I configure Outlook calendar, contacts, emails synchronization.

    Tried to deactivate Windows Firewall with no result.

  26. krekke says:

    I’ve just installed the drivers and now everything is working fine. With this install vista will find my smartphone perfectly!!

  27. chris_brooks says:

    I too installed the b3 of wmdc but what’s going on with bt support?

  28. Holly says:

    Good design!

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  29. Nigel Gibbons says:

    WMDC problems as per other users, sounds a bit slapstick needing to apply a WMDC Beta3 to what is stated as RTM, did someone at MS forget to put something in?

    Sounds a bit like the Office 2007 Pro MSDN release. Says Outlook has Business Contact Manager, but does not! All MS support could do is ask for a screen shot of the problem, a screen shot of something that is not there!

    Less haste more speed Microsoft….

  30. Regarding MSDN Office 2007 Pro release… it shows the following:

       *      Microsoft Office Access 2007

       *      Microsoft Office Excel® 2007

       *      Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2007

       *      Microsoft Office Publisher 2007

       *      Microsoft Office Word 2007

    Where is Outlook 2007?

  31. ur god says:

    GRRRRR…WMDC suxors cuz I use ppc 2002 & vista…useless

  32. WMDC, thus far, has proven to be little more than a giant annoyance.  This lack of functionality alone is likely going to prove sufficient for me to downgrade my OS to XP so at least ActiveSync can once again work.  It’s really quite a shame that MS ships a "beta" product that isn’t even alpha quality, and at the same time cripples any PPC users by deprecating ActiveSync.  Good job?  I think not.

    Every time I connect my PPC it just gets disconnected moments later (sometimes mid-sync) for no good reason (since there’s no detailed sync information shown in any ActiveSync or WMDC product that might help with debugging problems like this).

    On one occasion I managed to sync my contacts, but subsequent connections (or configuring WMDC to sync more than just contacts – like, I dunno, my calendar) failed.  Rebooting, destroying the partnership, etc – nothing works.

    FWIW, I’m running Office 2007 and Windows Vista and connecting to a PPC running Windows Mobile 5.

  33. Ofer Gal says:

    Any one had success using it with t-mobile SDA?

    It never connects even though Vista responds to the USB connecting and disconnecting with the phone.

    What else can be done?

  34. Dave Thompson says:

    My guess as to what to do…

    Downgrade to XP and use ActiveSync (which at least we know works more than in some bizarro cocoon test environment at Microsoft)…

    or, deal with not being able to sync until Q3 2009 when Microsoft decides to figure out how to make this pile of junk actually work (or provide their paying customers with a working solution in the interim).

  35. Nim says:

    I also had plenty of problems getting my XDA Exec connected to WMDC and it turned out (it has been pointed above already) that Windows Live one care firewall will prevent the 2 from connecting to each other. You will need to turn the WIndows One care firewall off before attempting connection.

  36. I too have problems with connection my QTEK9100 with WMDC (Vista final). I can’t find WMDC any where and can’t even download it when my phone is connected.

    In RC1 I had no problems connect my device… what the h*** happend!?

  37. Alex says:

    Many PROFESSIONAL functionalities missing, for example lack of CONTROL over configuration.

    1) managing more than 1 device partnership: no place to lists & manage partnerships

    2) ability to CLEAR every info synced to device. No way to reset calendars & contacts already present in the device

    3) ability to NOT get info on device copied to Windows/Exchange. In a business environment server-side data usually tale precedence over device data (why not get choices to users for a one-way sync?)

    In my opinion WMDC totally lack of a professional approach, one in which every info is explicited and not hidden and (bad-)managed by a program.

    I’m actually using VistaRc2 & WDMCb3 with WM5+MSFP device.

  38. Yorick says:

    As Olivier Ezratty wrote:


    Same problem with Vista RTM. Can’t sync up with a Qtek 9100 running Windows Mobile 5.0.

    There’s a Windows Mobile device showing up on Device Settings.

    Sync Center shows "Offline Files", "Storage Card" and another item seemingly linked to Windows Media Player sync.

    But nowhere can I configure Outlook calendar, contacts, emails synchronization.

    Tried to deactivate Windows Firewall with no result.


    This is the same problem which I have.

    My computer is running Windows Vista RC1 with Office 2007 B2TR. I runned the update ( WMDC Beta 3 ofcourse ), but when I plug my Samsung i320 device there is nowhere I can synchronize my Calender, Contact or whatever when I press the button "Set Up My Device". And after a couple of seconds I get the message that the I have to disconnect and then reconnect the Mobile Device..

    But what I cán do is transfer files with the File Manager … strange uh?

    Are there any solutions for this? I have re-installed the update several times, turned the firewalls on and off but with no results.

    Can anyone give me an advise?



  39. Darren McDermott says:

    I had the same problem as you guys with my imate jamin running a qtek rom.

    I have installed Vista RTM and Office 2007 RTM and had no sync options until I installed WMDC beta 3).

    Sync ok now

    Good luck all

  40. J.C. says:

    Great… now I have to run a beta 3 (WTF) on a RTM…

  41. Yorick says:

    But ís RC1 in combination with WMDC beta 3 possible for sync? Or do i have to install the latest version of vista?

  42. Now that Vista has gone to RTM and is now available to MSDN Subscribers , plus the 3rd Beta of the Mobile

  43. MobileRead says:

    The new version of ActiveSync is called "Windows Mobile Device Center", and it’s ready for Vista (and only Vista). Some benefits and improvements: * Streamlined setup * Robust synchronization * Enhanced user interface * File browsing * Photo…

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