A plea for desktop Outlook synchronization in Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 does not support syncing with MS Outlook, a deal breaker for some.

Luis Castro Solla has written to us about his frustration about an element which had always been present in Windows Mobile, but who’s absense in Windows Phone 7 may drive him to another mobile OS.
The issue – synching with Outlook on the desktop – and from many other e-mails I know he is far from the only one.  He writes:

At 54, I am reasonably good with computers, and I am far from new to PDAs and smartphones. After having used several generations of Psions and Palm Pilots, and even trying the wonderful Apple Newton, I went to Pocket PCs, thus fusing my PDA with my mobile phone. I broke my last one, an iPaq 614c, a few days ago.

Pocket PCs are now very much dead. I already accept the advantages of the cloud, and am willing to embrace the new paradigm. I use MS Office and Outlook daily and, as a matter of fact, am extremely happy with it. I use Outlook to manage my mail and my contacts (2000+ of them). I also extensively use the Calendar, the Tasks (hundreds) and the Notes (many, many hundreds). Pocket PCs could reasonably well synchronize with all these modules of Outlook, apart from the occasional glitches (duplicate entries in the Calendar come to mind) and the fact that the synchronization was partial (I had to use HPC Notes to fully synchronize my notes, which are organized in folders).

Of the three OS that I am now considering – Windows Phone 7, Android 2.2/2.3, and iOS 4 – none seems to offer an easy, straightforward, and complete cooperation with Outlook in a PC. You only have to look at the instructions for doing it, and the numerous complaints in the Internet forums, to realize it. You will synchronize contacts and calendar; with the help of a third-party program, you will at the best also synchronize the tasks, albeit in a very unsatisfying way (my hundreds of tasks will be in the calendar, as unscheduled tasks).

I feel very much attracted to Windows Phone 7 because (1) I think it has the more pleasant, if not the best, interface of the lot, (2) I think its development environment (Visual Studio, etc…) is second to none, and (3) it should theoretically be the one to better interface with MS Office and Outlook, irrespective of them being in my PC or somewhere up there in the cloud.

Are there things I dislike in Windows Phone 7? A few: (1) first and foremost, the very incomplete synchronization with MS Outlook, (2) the lack of cut-and-paste (apparently, soon to be solved); (3) the lack of support for expansion cards, although I can live with it, (4) the geographical limitations of its app market (yes, I am portuguese, and I am writing from Portugal).

Microsoft owns and programs both Oulook and Windows Phone. Why does it have to be so difficult to make them work together transparently? Better yet, put Outlook in the cloud, and let us seamlessly synchronize our three copies of Outlook – the local one, the PDA/phone one, and the cloud one. Completely, including tasks and notes in folders. I am convinced that Microsoft would have a clear winner in its hands. Is it so hard? Google sort of does it. Should I abandon MS Office and go to Google Apps?

Do our readers share his frustration? Let us know below.