You Got a Windows Phone 7 For Christmas: Five Next Steps
So you’ve got a Windows Phone 7 for Christmas! Use it well and enjoy it! You’ve gone through the initial setup process involving your Windows Live ID and you’ve probably made your first phone call to let everyone know what good old Santa left you under the tree. We’ll tell you below how to start using your new Windows Phone 7 for work, play and all your social needs!
Prerequisites: in order to get content to your Windows Phone 7 you’ll need to install the Zune Software, which is available both for PC and Mac (currently in Beta). This application will not only serve as a way to organize your Pictures, Videos and Music libraries but it’s the only way to get multimedia to your phone (except the Zune pass described next). On a same note, head over to Zune and sign up for a Zune pass to benefit the full Zune experience on your smartphone. A Zune pass will give you access to unlimited music you can stream and download from anywhere, as long as your pass is valid, plus you get 10 songs to keep every month!
1. Set Up Sync for Contacts, Email and Facebook integration
If you’re lucky to have an Exchange account, Windows Phone 7 will play nice and, once set up, will sync your Contacts, Calendar and Email. You can set up your Exchange account by going to Settings, Email & accounts, Add new account, Outlook. Enter your credentials and set up your sync interval (30 minutes is a good balance between staying informed and battery life) after which your Contacts, Email and Calendar will be synced to your phone.
If you don’t have an Exchange account, you’ll be disappointed to find out that Windows Phone 7 does not sync with desktop version of Outlook. This limitation is due to Microsoft’s policy and vision that is cloud oriented but don’t worry, download the Outlook Hotmail Connector. This will help you set up your Windows Live account within your desktop Outlook after which you can easily copy all of your Outlook contacts and paste them into the Windows Live section of contacts. You can also copy your Calendar appointments and, along with Contacts, these too will be synced to your phone. You can set up several Email accounts from different providers, such as Windows Live, Yahoo or Google. POP and IMAP accounts can be also configured and there’s an Advanced setup option too in case you need to use that.
Your Windows Phone 7 Calendar application can display several Calendars (for instance, Exchange and Windows Live). In order to differentiate between them, the OS uses different colors which you can customize (for instance, blue for Windows Live and red for Exchange/Outlook). In order to achieve this, start the Calendar application, tap on Calendars on the bottom menu and select which Calendars to be used as well as the color accent you prefer.
In order to stay up to date with what your friends are up to, it is a good practice to also set up Facebook. Follow the instructions above for setting up Email (you’ll find Facebook listed in the Accounts section). After setup, you will see a live What’s new section for each contact, given it is linked to your corresponding Facebook friend. Windows Phone 7 does a good job at linking friends but in case your Contact name and Facebook friend name for the same person differ, you will have to manually link those two (from the link button at the bottom of the screen while displaying your desired contact). You can choose to only display those Facebook friends which are also in your Contacts list in order to unclutter your People hub. Just go to Settings, Applications, People and select “Only add Facebook info to existing contacts”.
Tips and Notes:
– you can pin any of your Contacts to your Start screen for quick and easy access. Just tap and hold on a contact name in the People hub and select Pin to Start.
– you’ll also notice that the People hub keeps track of your Recent contacts and displays them separately.
– if you’re not satisfied with the Contact picture (want to choose the Outlook picture over Facebook, vice versa or assign a new picture), you can read the instructions we’ve posted earlier to achieve this.
– you can rename your Email accounts from Windows Live and Outlook to whatever you wish, for instance Work and Private. Read our detailed instructions to accomplish this.
2. Zune, Music, Pictures, Videos, Games
You can have lots of fun with Windows Phone 7. If you also happen to have a Zune pass, you’ve got unlimited music at your fingertips and you handset will sync with your desktop Zune software both wired and wirelessly making sure you always have your libraries up to date across all your gadgets. You can specify what content to sync by going to the Settings section of your PC’s Zune software and select which groups you want your device to mirror. You can sync All items in a group, only items that you choose or leave the syncing off until demanded by selecting manual.
– you can choose to not sync media that you do not like. The process will automatically skip that certain content and will save you phone storage space;
– you should set up your conversion settings in order to save some precious storage space on your device. Read our instructions to properly achieve this.
You can take your music with you on your Windows Phone 7 by syncing your Albums and Songs to your device. Whether you sync rips of previously purchased CDs or content you downloaded or bought using your Zune pass, you will find all of them in the Zune section of your phone (Music + Videos). If your media is properly tagged, you will see precious information as well as album and artist art when listening to your favorite tunes. You can discover new music using your Zune pass by searching the Marketplace and you can choose to buy or download (accessible via a long tap and hold on the Album/Song) content you like, which will then automatically be added to your Collection of your phone and synced to your desktop at next sync.
If you’re anything like me, you most probably have at least a couple of your best picture albums on your computer. After sync, you will find all of these in your Pictures hub, together with pictures you take using your smartphone’s camera, those from your Online albums on Facebook and Windows Live.
– instead of having all your pictures in one place, cluttering your Pictures hub, read our instructions on how to organize them in libraries and folders on your computer. This way, they will display as Albums in your pictures hub too.
You can also sync videos from your Computer to your Windows Phone 7. The process is similar to Music sync and you can transfer videos your purchase as well as your own recordings. These too will be displayed in the Music + Videos section (the Zune app on your phone).
One of the coolest features of Windows Phone 7 is the Xbox Live integration. If you have a gamertag associated with your Windows Live ID, you can play Xbox Live games you purchase on your device and ramp up your achievements. You can customize your avatar and even play certain games against your friends, all from your Windows Phone 7.
You can’t currently sync Documents using you Zune software but there are several other ways you can take them with you on your Windows Phone 7. If you are not using Sharepoint, make sure to check out our tutorial where we demonstrate how to access office documents on your phone using three different methods. You can take several file types with you on the go, including Excel, Word, Powerpoint, OneNote and PDF documents.
– you can have your OneNote notebook synced with SkyDrive from both your Computer and Windows Phone 7 so that every annotation, edit or addition will be saved to the SkyDrive notebook and thus mirrored on your computer as well as smartphone.
There are a couple of must have applications you’ll want to install in order to keep everything fluid, let it be work or play. While you can easily browse software titles on your device through Marketplace, you can also search for applications using your Zune software on your desktop. You’ll find lots of useful ones according to your likes and needs but the ones below should get your through the Holidays and upcoming parties:
Windows Phone 7 does not have native YouTube support (yet). Instead, you will be able to watch your favorite online videos after installing Microsoft’s own YouTube application. It will show up in the Marquee section of Music + Videos and it will allow you to watch YouTube content on your phone, wherever you are. There’s also an alternative to the basic YouTube application which you can check out by reading our demonstration of the LazyWorm YouTube app. You can search for the application in the Marketplace and download it for free.
Adobe Reader is an application which you must install in order to view PDF files on your Windows Phone 7, as the platform does not have native support for these file formats. You can find the application in the Marketplace and install it for free, after which all the PDFs you’ll receive via Email will be properly opened and displayed once you download the attachment to your smartphone.
Even though Windows Phone 7 has some basic Facebook integration, it does not compare to the full experience a dedicated application can offer you. Facebook for Windows Phone 7 now also supports Places and picture tagging so you will be presented with a fully operational and feature packed client you can use to keep in touch with friends, tell them where you’re at and where all the buzz is, share pictures, like things, comment, etc. Microsoft’s own Facebook application is free and available in the Marketplace.
Tell everyone on Twitter how awesome your Christmas gift is or where the coolest party in town is going down! You can download Twitter’s own Windows Phone 7 client that looks awesome or you can go for another alternative for the service, such as beezz, which is also supporting Live Tiles as well as toast notifications. Find both of them, as well as alternatives, searching for Twitter in the Marketplace.
And if you like a certain tune while at that cool party but you just don’t know the name of the song or the artist, Shazam will help you identify music and even help you get it by linking you to the Zune Marketplace where you can Download or buy the track. With all the Holiday parties going on as a warm-up for the mother of all, the New Year’s party, Shazam is a great companion to use, show off and have fun with. Find it in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace for free!
Unlocking your Windows Phone 7 device is possible with the unlocker tool but it will not give you, at the moment, any added functionality that would justify the risks involved with jailbreaking. Microsoft does not advise you to unlock your device and it will even lock itself back after a while, but if you must have your favorite song as a ringtone on your handset, you will need to first unlock, then use a homebrew application that allows you to get custom ringtones on your smartphone.
The Windows Phone 7 unlocker tool has been pulled by developers as a support and result of alleged ongoing discussions between the ChevronWP7 team and Microsoft regarding future possible support of some sort from Redmond for homebrew applications. You can still find the tool in places it was mirrored to.
So there you have it, some quick notes on what to do with that awesome Windows Phone 7 device you got for Christmas. Let us know in the comments below what device is it that Santa brought you as well as your first impressions on using the newest mobile platform out there.