WMDC/ActiveSync Pass Through Feature

I got an email from a customer asking about device connectivity using the pass through feature in ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC). In this settings dialog, what's the difference between Automatic, Work Network and The Internet? Specifically, when should I change the setting to something other than Automatic?

WMDC Settings

Here's a quick summary of what these settings mean:

Automatic: Detect if a proxy should be used when passing connections through the desktop, and if so detect the proxy on the desktop and configure it on the device. Best if connecting your device to a laptop that may be used at home (with no proxy), as well as a corporate network.

Work: Assume a proxy should be used when passing connections through the desktop, and use whatever proxy is already configured on the device. Best if connecting your device to a desktop computer that is always on your corporate network.

The Internet: Assume no proxy is necessary when passing connections through the desktop. Best for home PCs that are connected directly to the Internet through ISPs like Comcast.

Comments (23)

  1. Mike Hudgell says:

    So wouldn’t

    – Autodetect Proxy

    – Always use proxy

    – Never use proxy

    have been better titles?

  2. beep says:

    humm, how about removing the option and do an automatic detection by default.

  3. Faust says:

    I think these titles don’t say anything about proxy because an overage user is not required to know what the proxy is and what it does. So names are related to the way they’re best used rather than to the technical meaning.

    A user can leave "Automatic" if it works for him or select one of the manual options which suits the situation better.

  4. Jon Payne says:

    I really wish Microsoft would stop using the terms "My Work Network" and "My ISP" or "The Internet".  They don’t give any indication of what the software will actually do.  How should a user know which option to select if they have a complex home network or an unusual work network?

    Please could we just have options that explain what they will do and less software that makes assumptions about different network configurations.

  5. Matthew says:

    The presence of a proxy has NOTHING to do with whether I’m at work or not. The ability to select "The Internet" implies the the Work network somehow WON’T connect me to the internet. If it wasn’t for this article, I’d have no idea what this setting does. I see the same selection on the device when I’m configuring t to connect to networks, whether it be a WLAN or GPRS, both of which get me to the Internet and one of which gets me my LAN to. Are the meaning the same in this context? I seem to remember seeing some proxy settings that were simple and straight-forward like one would expect, so I’d hazard the guess that these terms mean something different on the handheld than the desktop, but they also just be redundant settings.

    At any rate, retarded titles indeed. If a technical user can’t figure out what ti means, then how is the average idiot supposed to figure it out? I want to connect to The Internet and I’m at Work, which one do I choose?

  6. Stewart Clark says:

    On this subject I have a problem with my simple  winsock pgm.  The simple winsock server that I wrote runs on the XP Desktop and listens on socket 11000.

    On the CE Device (CE 5.0) (connected to XP Desktop using ActiveSync 4.2 via

    USB), I have written a simple client that does a gethostbyname("ppp_peer"); to obtain the IP adr of the host. It returns (should be – 1st problem/question?).

    The connect, however, succeeds, and the subsequent send of some data also succeeds! Yet the host program never gets the connection and of course the data.

    As a test, I changed the connect dest IP adr to just anything (eg, yet same results: ie connects OK, send data OK!

    Who is receiving this connection and data? Is it ActiveSync?

    PS. The host PGM (winsock server) is OK, as I have tested with another desktop client that establishes a connection on port 11000 with this host PGM.

  7. Ian Cunningham says:

    I agree about "work",  etc. I would describe myself as something of a network expert but I have never had any clear understanding of what my PDA thinks is going on. Why I can’t jus have IPCONFIG. When I am in a hotel room with a VPN to my home network via a proxy where am I in the work/internet most apps seem to want me to pay for a GPRS call!.  Why can’t we just have a description that means something? It would be nice to be able to tell an app to use my activesync pass through.

  8. Ian Cowper says:

    At least some of you guys seem to have working proxy settings – my Orange SPV M3100 (HTC TyTN) will not, no matter what I try, remember any proxy settings! So far its an expensive paper weight because I can’t use the wifi at work 🙁

  9. Ed Goward says:

    That’s really useful – many thanks.

    If you’re looking at this page and puzzling as to why you don’t have a drop down full of cryptic connection names at all then I think it’s because you’ve got the WMDC that Vista RTM shipped with.  You need to download the full WMDC version (currently beta 3).  Otherwise you don’t seem to get any pass through internet connection at all.

  10. rpv says:

    Is there a program in windows I can use to dump all registry entries from a windows mobile 5 smartphone (i have Tmobile Dash). The device is connected through USB. I need to have a text file dump with all parameters and their values ?

  11. Ritvik says:

    What should be the settings under "Connections>Connections" while using the pass through feature? Which Network should be configured to connect to the Internet?

  12. Mcfly says:

    Well, I think there should be one more key info belonging to these three options…

    Don’t these settings mean that the Windows Mobile device will believe that the desktop (and therefore the DTPT) is connected to that network? So if let’s say I select "Work" on the WMDC panel, the device will believe its connection is to the "Work" network, will check it’s connectionmanager config and try to find a chain that gets it to the specified target? Let that target be "The Internet" (http*://*.*) then it’ll look for a proxy between "Work" and "The Internet".

    This was my previous experience and this way it worked fine… I could never get the "Automatic" option to work though…

    My only problem is what to do if I create some custom network definition on the device that would use a different proxy (not work, not internet). I think I will not be able to select that network in the WMDC dropdown…

  13. Abdy Martin says:

    You know what i think, these mobile devices lack too many of standard tools, and have shoddy names so it is not really surprising that pple get confused, i mean tools like ipconfig, simple easy things that tell you which connection is connected wtc, and netstat is another one it shows all active connections, it’s almost beyond me except these are phone companies they only want you to connect through a method that reaps huge benefits for them finacially and they will gladly send you an sms to configure you up for mms and grps and sms, yet i give no prizes for guessing why they won’t help with wireless and free type active sync passthroughs.

  14. Tryst says:


    If you have VS2005 installed you can dump the registry on the device to a text file on your PC.

    Visual Studio 2005->Visual Studio Remote Tools->Remote Registry Editor.


  15. Jerry Gardner says:

    I have had my Dell Axim x50 running 2003 SE working fine on windoews XP, then I installed Vista I thought it was cool how Vista included WMDC. I had no problems, but I could not get a few other components working so I gave up went back to XP Pro. The Nagging in my head pulled be back to vista RTM and I fixxed all of my issues but now with my axim running moble 5.0 I can not for the life of me get this PDA to do anything the WMDC does not pic it up WMP doesn’t pick it up and Sync Center will not touch it as well…. Any Help would GREATLY be appriciated. Thanks in advance.

  16. salman siddiqui says:


        i have a "SPV M1000 orange " and i run a local area network .So is ther any way that i can use local area net on my pocket pc by connecting it to my desktop computer …..?plezz help

  17. Alex Tang says:

    I am trying to use the desktop pass through in my office which has a proxy.  I configured the automatic proxy URL.  I tried set the pass-through to automatic, it doesn’t work.  However, i cannot find a way to configure my device to some automatic proxy URL.  Any thoughts on how to resolve this?

  18. Richard says:

    I used my WM 5.0 device (actually a HTC P3600) to act a radio modem to my PC when my broadband connection went down.  This worked a dream, but now I can’t get my device to sync with my PC (vista enterprise).  Everytime I connect it via the USB, my PC creates a new LAN portusing my phone and WMDC stays unconnected.  I re-installed WMDC (now at 6.1), rebooted my device.  Checked that ActiveSync and not Internet Sharing is running, but still no joy.  

  19. Joe says:

    Thanks so much for this article. This makes way more sense – nothing in ActiveSync help files. I have a SmartPhone, Cingular’s 3125 and use XPressMail (for Exchange server sync) and if I connect through a desktop ("Automatic" in ActiveSync) it never finds the XPressMail server which is probably limited to the IP range of cell phones. So while the phone is cradled it never gets the XPressMail items. Once I pull the phone off the cradle, it causes chaos, freezes, trying to re-download the entire set of e-mails, etc. I can barely use the phone and most times multiple reboots get me to a functional state. Once HTC, the maker of the 3125, came up with the solution of using "Work Network" rather then Auto, the phone now always uses its own wireless connection and does not use the wired. Note: also have to change IE connection settings to "Work" if you want to use IE while wired.

    All is good now, this is the only way that I found for a Windows Mobile (SmartPhone) to maintain access to websites that are exclusive to the Cingular network (XPressMail), unltimately bypassing the PC’s internet connection.

    I have been a computer professional for 15 years and somebody earlier in this article mentioned the correct way to call these settings "proxy" or not. There should be a system wide setting for "Idiot Verbiage" or "Computer Nerd". It took me a long time to find that this was the setting will fix my issue. Thanks to HTC – they gave me the answer so now I’m contributing 🙂

  20. Aled says:

    Pls help, I have recently purchased 17 HTC P3450s and i am trying to connect them to a proxy however the settings always vanish, any ideas on how i can prevent this?


  21. rainerz says:

    The problem with the vanishing proxy settings on HTC Touch devices is seen by many people, however, nobody has an idea what the root cause actually is and how to fix it. Isn’t that strange?

  22. powersteer says:

    I’m recently did a hard reset on my wm6 device. after that happens, my wm6 phone can no longer connect to the internet using the notebook’s …

    why is that so? i though its supposed to be shared automatically like it was previously?

  23. Farook says:

    I am using an HTC Touch. I am not able to connect to Internet using proxy server (the proxy settings vanishes). I am able to connect to Internet using my home network which does not require a proxy. Does anybody find a solution?

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