Duplicates using ActiveSync and PC Suite from Sony Ericsson

Today I connected my z770 cell phone to my Windows Vista PC with the non-included USB cable.
In the manual it says it should be included but to the manual there is also a single-sheet addendum correcting the “typo” in the manual: “using the included USB cable” should read “using a USB cable” etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I have been syncing with ActiveSync which does an ok (not great) job at syncing email, contacts and calendar. But ActiveSync in Sony Ericsson world is only for syncing OTA (Over the Air). To Sync with your PC you need to use Sony Ericsson’s synchronization software – PC Suite.

First of all you have to download it because there is no CD included. I don’t mind that because I always want to download the latest version anyway, but I found it a bit strange that no CD was there. But then again there was no USB cable either.

I have owned Sony Ericsson phones before and I was a bit skeptical to installing their software because it has made my computers behave strange in the past. But besides that the installation program seemed to be in a 30 minutes long endless loop installing drivers before I shut it down, it seems to be working fine.

When starting to sync I got questions asking me (I guess I should be happy it at least asks) to confirm whether entries are the same. There was no way to cancel so instead of clicking Yes or No, I hit Escape which closed the window and I thought would be the same as “skip” but when I finally succeed in hitting Cancel on the background window it turns out lots of duplicate entries have been created in my Contacts and Calendar in Outlook. It also seems that for each Contact where I have entered a birthday a duplicate birthday entry is created in my calendar. ๐Ÿ™

On Contacts Active Sync have synced not the Email address field but the Display as field, e.g. Email contains “[email protected]” and the Display as “Bill Gates ([email protected])”.
This I have already noticed because when you try to send an email to a contact with multiple email addresses from your phone it gets very difficult to select email address because the screen only shows the first x characters. But PC suite sync on the email address field and therefore gives you the question for each entry if it is the same or not.
I guess a solution for contacts could be to change Outlook settings to only show email address in the Display as field and then change it in your existing contacts, but I have not tried this.

Just as on Contacts there seem to be a difference between ActiveSync and PC Suite when syncing Calendar. The fields Notes and Classification (internal field?) are handled differently.

PC Sync don’t sync email at all for some reason so there is no problem here.

I called the Sony Ericsson help line and the person I spoke with seemed surprised I even tried to sync with both ActiveSync and PC Suite, “I advice you not to do that”.
So basically there seems to be no plans to fix this and the workaround is to sync your stuff either with Active Sync or PC Suite.

Since you can check what things to sync where you can for example select to sync only email with Active Sync and the rest with PC Suite.
With ActiveSync you have the options to sync Email, Calendar and/or Contacts.
With PC Suite you have the options to sync Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and/or Bookmarks.

I miss my Windows Mobile phone…

Exchange Session Failed Communication Interrupted

Yesterday I went ahead and bought the new Sony Ericsson z770i that I blogged about some time ago. I have been waiting a few weeks to get it in black instead of silver and during that time they announced another model – z780i – that should be all that the z770i is but also with a built in GPS. It seems there is always another model being announced, so even if I would have preferred the z780i I wasn’t prepared to wait any longer. I also hear that it will not be sold on the Swedish market for some reason (maybe because they just started shipping the z770)

Last night after I put the children to bed I played around with it and tried to get ActiveSync to work. I filled out the info in the Synchronization settings and connected but only got “Exchange Session failed Communication interrupted” (or since I have Swedish selected as language: “Exchange Sessionen misslyckades Kommunikationen avbrรถts”)

I searched the Sony Ericsson Support Knowledge base – not a single hit for neither Exchange, ActiveSync nor Active Sync! ๐Ÿ™

Thanks to Google and this thread by dmwood at Microsoft Technet, Goran at my Hosted Exchange 2007 provider managed to solve this for me late last night. In my Hosted Exchange Control Panel the ActiveSync Policey “Allow Non-provisionable devices” was unchecked. Once Goran checked that option for me everything started to work. Thanks Goran for working late and helping me out!

I also sent an email to Sony Ericsson support and this is their reply this morning:

Confirm with your IT staff that device security settings on the server allow access to devices that do not fully support password settings. This option is available in:

Exchange System Manager > Global Settings > Mobile Services > Device Security

If this checkbox was unchecked, you will get a connection failed, although a Windows Mobile device would still sync properly.

The following security settings are supported:
Wipe: PIM data and settings are supported.
Exchange 2003 Device security Settings: NOT supported.
Exchange 2007 Additional Security settings: NOT supported.

I will probably get back with a post on the differences between using Windows Mobile ActiveSync and non-Windows Moible/Sony Ericsson ActiveSync, there are a few.

Find an Active Sync Mobile Phone

How do you find a new cell phone that can sync well with Exchange?

I love my Qtek 8500 (HTC StrTrk). Even though it has now been over two years since I first got it I haven’t been able to find anything like it to replace it. And it needs to be replaced. Not only because I like new gadgets but also because the front panel came off and I had to glue it back on myself, the extra memory card has stopped working, the signal fails all the time, it hangs and last week a sat on it so the external display is now broken.

So what’s so great about it? I would say three things

  • Exchange synchronization, i.e. Email, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks
  • The small clam shell/flip flop form factor. Before this phone I had never had one but now I would never want to go back
  • Windows Contacts navigation – I love the way results show up as you type. This must be a Microsoft patent as no one else uses this great navigation/look up functionality

Why is it so hard to find a replacement? Well, first of all I want it to be a Windows Mobile which directly limits the choice. Then add that I want it to be clam shell and this limits the choice to almost nothing.

There has been rumors of a 8500 successor, a 3G version – the HTC S420 Erato. But the rumor has been going for over a year and the expected release date has been postponed time after time after time… And there is yet to be an official announcement from HTC.

So, I have decided to give in on it having to be a Windows phone as long as it has good Exchange Synchronization.

But why is it so hard to find out what phones are Windows Mobile or support Active Sync?

  • On Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Homepage you can search for devices but it is far from complete (at least for Sweden)
  • Samsung have Windows Mobile phones, but I cannot find a way to find out which from their home page (Swedish market)
  • I know Nokia has phones with Active Sync but how can I find out which?
  • It is the same with Sony Ericsson, they have Active Sync support for some phones, but how can I find them? They have also announced their first Windows Mobile phone, the Xperia X1 which should be available later this year.

I emailed Sony Ericsson and got a reply where they in fact confirm that this information cannot be found for all models on their home page. But they also gave me a list of current phones with Active Sync:

That last one – the z770 – looks like something I might actually want.

The only question that remains – is Active Sync on other brands as good as it is on Windows Mobile?