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Microsoft updates Windows Phone 8 PC sync client with improvements

The new Windows Phone 8 sync client has been received with mixed reviews. On the one hand, people like the new modern UI look and exceptionally minimalist feature set. But perhaps it was a bit too barren?

Luckily the Windows Phone 8 sync client (for Windows 8) has been updated today to version 1.1.2303 and indeed the syncing ability for music and media has been refined. You can see in our before and after shots that your music is now place into what look like Tile/Folders as opposed to just “slots”. Right click on the folder will give you the ability to add the UI common “check” allowing you to sync that whole folder. If we had to guess, we’d say Microsoft purposefully made it much more “touch friendly” for you Surface and touchscreen users.

Head past the break for some comparison shots...

Our bet is this app will see quite a few updates over the coming months to add features or improve upon the design, so stay tuned. We haven’t noticed too many other changes in today’s update so for that, we’ll rely on you: let us know in comments if there are any other big changes that we should know about. Thanks, Nick C., for the tip!

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Reader comments

Microsoft updates Windows Phone 8 PC sync client with improvements

93 Comments

How do I remove music? I can't figure out how to sync, just transfer to the phone. I need to remove all my Zune music that doesn't play, which is ridiculous.

I can't verify that specifically, but you CAN open the Windows File Explorer and look through the phone like a flash drive.

Yeah...it doesn't sync. It transfers. If I "sync" a folder onto the phone, remove songs from the folder, and resync the folder, it does not remove the newly deleted tracks. I love the phone and surface, but this whole sync program, Xbox Music, and Xbox Video is a complete disaster. On top of all three being stripped of 95% of the features the Zune software had, it is broken into three programs! WTF for?!?!?!? Bring Zune back, rebrand it Xbox Music+Video, and fire who ever made this decision in the first place.

I agree with you. Those software engineers who designed this piece of crap called Xbox Music should be fired asap. They took a completely working music player/organizer/sync and stripped all of the 90% features and then they decided "oh yeah we want you to buy music w/Xbox music pass instead". Get over it now. We have our local collections and that always comes first above anything else. The whole buying "commerce" thing isn't going to fly well if we can't use the software for basic music /podcast/ sync/ abilities. You can force a horse to the river but you can't force it to drink from the river. MS software engineers, get this into your head now. Our top priority is not to buy from the store, ...it's to play our own collections that we've acquired over donkey years. Fix this now or the backlash and bad reviews will continue. I had to remove the XM app from Surface few days back. It's just too awful and unusable. Almost makes me want to wish there was vlc or km player on the market.

Not having used this software yet makes me really worried.
What you say about local music vs store/streaming services is so spot on.

People still have local collections of music? That worries me a little. I find Xbox Music outstanding and I've never found out so much about an artist before, by just clicking on one of their songs. I still wonder why some songs require you to pay extra to "purchase" them, when you already have an XM Pass, but I guess they're just new releases, *shrug*.

Local music that we own, that works even without internet connection? Music that isnt just deleted over licensing and money disputes? Good lord what are we thinking? Oh and Zune had the exact same artist information. You obviously never used Zune so i dont know if we should take your opinion on this topic.

Are you kidding?  I have over 30,000 songs and over 40 podcst subscriptions that I would like to have the option to sync to my phone.  It is much faster/easier to use my PC to organize all that.  Just because you've given completely in to the "cloud" doen't mean we all want to pay again for what we already own.  I love cloud computing and streaming services, but it is just an option.  If you cut off my options, I feel boxed in.  To limit options is to be Apple, an do we really want that?

Agreed! I really liked the Zune software. It was easy to sync with, had loads of functionality and was visually appealing. I can't even use the new programs they are so bad! I would love to have my Zune software back just as it was and renamed Xbox Music+Video. Whoever scrapped the Zune software, just as you said, should be fired. This new transfer system is easily the biggest let down of WP8 for me. 

Until they figure out how to make the two camps of people happy (people wanting mass storage file control vs. sync services like Zune/Wifi), you can just Windows Media Player.  Plug in phone, open WMP, go to Sync tab --> Set Up Sync.  Add/remove playlists, songs, videos, etc (by default all playlists/songs are selected) and click Sync Now.  It works, not how Zune worked, which I prefer, but better than the present WP8 Phone tool.

Sorry if this double-posts. I'm not sure what is going on.  If you want to sync content including playlists, just use Windows Media Player. 

  1. Connect phone
  2. Open WMP
  3. Click on Sync tab
  4. Click Setup Sync
  5. By default I believe all playlists/auto lists are added. Add/Remove as you see fit.
  6. Change any other sync properties.
  7. Click Sync Now  (no wifi sync only direct connect USB)

Not Zune, but also not the WP7/8 tool.

Doesn't work to sync playlists that I have created in Zune for me? Even after I transfer zune playlists to wmp... The zune playlist have the wrong files names but somehow it's still able to play them...

There is a setting in Settings of Zune client to delete all Zune Pass content. I used it to remove them and re-transfer using WP8 client.

To delete, I went to the phone view and deleted items.
Has the playlist creation and syncing set up yet? That seems to be a big miss. Wish it just imported all of the stuff from Zune.

You can add playlists from the Windows Phone desktop app. The interface on that reminds me of the iTunes sync interface. Which is inferior to Zune.

Change is hard. I miss Zune. I have to agree with Daniel, and we should expect many changes that over the next few months, hopefully all for the better. At least, I certainly hope they do...

I don't mind change, but when someone tells you that you are changing for the better, you expect to go from a Lamborghini to a Ferrari. Not a Porsche to and Escort.

The Zune Software was not a Porsche.  It was more like the Escort you mentioned.  The new software is more like a Yugo however.  I always maintained my playlist in Media Player, so I just set up a synch to my 920.

I beg to differ...Many...and I mean a ton of us...think the Zune software was the king of Media management and transfer.

^+1. I love everything about Zune and hate iTunes and hate Windows Media Player as it is far too buggy (monitored folders not updating properly is my biggest issue; they update in Zune perfectly. Auto playlists also work great in Zune, as does wireless sync). I am not upgrading to a L920 until MSFT fixes this situation.

I agree...I use Zune as my default player on my Win7 laptop. I'm a little bummed that the new phones aren't compatible with the software. It doesn't make sense.

I have podcast subscriptions setup fine on my 920 and it downloads them ota using either wi-f or cell data. I miss having Zune software handle it but I have no issues so far with how the phone handles it however.

Are you able to manually add podcasts via RSS that aren't available in the marketplace?  I can't figure out how to do it on WP8. On WP7 I coudl use Zune...
(I know you can manually move the audio files, but they're recognized as music not podcasts and thus do not save your place well and you cannot subscribe to the feed.)

I haven't been able to solve this either.  Being outside the US, and not being able to subscribe to podcasts directly on your phone means there is now no way to subscribe.  Pretty disappointing.

What we need is someone from a country where MS allows podcast support to connect their WP8 to their PC, and look in Phone/Music/PodcastSeries.  What's there?  I'm hoping we can drop in some sort of formatted file pointing to an RSS feed/etc, and just get them in that way. 
Unfortunately that person isn't me, as I'm not in the US...

Thing that drives me nuts, is that it used to keep tracked of which were watched and then remove them. Now it doesn't remove then and won't load more until you manually delete them.

Podcasts work great on the phone ... if the podcast exists in the Xbox Music store.  If it does not, there is no facility to provide a URL to a feed.  This used to be possible through Zune (add the podcast to Zune, sync to phone, then on the phone tap "subscribe" on the synced podcast), but that functionality is missing from the new app.  The desktop app can sync podcasts from itunes, but it relies on itunes managing them and does not import them into the phone in such a way that allows the phone app to subscribe.

Strange, as Win Phone 7.x had that. Also, there will be apps for doing that anyway, again there was on Windows Phone 7.x
I certainly wouldnt let that put you off Windows Phone.

Ditto, podcasts I want to keep for posterity, like This American Life or A Way With Words, are important to be handled on my PC, then synced with my SkyDrive. Weekly garb I'd fine handled in one place, but what about video podcasts?

We still need WP7.5 compatibility... I'm tired of using Zune, it is clearly not that usable on a touch device (you can't even scroll as you'll do anywhere else, it's a real pain in the a..... since you end up moving files while doing so!).

Without a dektop music client that has all the feature of Zune (autoplaylists, automatic sync options, etc) I'm not moving to WP8. I can't believe MSFT would release such a half baked ecosystem with all the problems they've had in music in the past.

i too have found the metro client to be lackluster so i use it on my win 8 pc running the software optimized for the desktop view. managing music on the modern ui view is just difficult in general.

how do you download music on the software for metro? i had trouble finding anything related to downloading music and so forth.

You can still use Zune but they are pushing us to XBOX music and it is hideous right now...you can a combo of right clicking, various screens and such. I want to like XBOX Music but it is unfinished.

I tried downloading this for windows 7 said something about "download .net 1144 image file" then the wizard closes.. Smfh. They should've stuck with Zune and just changed the name of it with a software update..

Well, that's a bloody shame seeing as Zune was one of the major reasons why I got a Windows Phone.

I'm sure if Xbox Music and the sync client is better implemented, none of us will miss Zune this much.

Not sure why they didn't keep Zune and changed its name. IT certainly works OK on W8... I still use it with my Z80...

It is still not possible to subscribe to podcasts if  you live outside the US. We don't have a podacst store and unlike Zune this awful software does not support subscribing via RSS

The music app is horrible. Worst MS Software I've EVER used and I've used a lot.
Truly disappointed with it. It's the only app on my surface that chugs and resets. I just got a wp8 today and I anticipate more problems...

Honestly this software is garbage. Looks great but unusable. It is going to piss off new comers to WP and the ecosystem can't afford one and done users with the growth rate as it is.

The music and syncing is leaving a sour taste in lots of peoples mouths.  I'm glad they seem to be responding but there are multitudes of issues.  I guess this is the pains of moving from one thing to another.  We, the ones who bought in early, are having to deal with this mess.  I'm patient.  So I'll wait.

I agree with all the Zuners who are used to a superior music experience. After adding my collection to my surface it started redownloading all my music i own, why the eff!!! So unintuitive and slow compared to Zune. ou can say what you want about zune not being the ipod killer device but the software was an itunes killer for sure. Now we have this failed abortion of an app.....please fix:
1-Where is the heart to mark favorite songs?
2-What about the related tab?
3-How about being able to select multiple songs for download/purchase? Instead of one at a time, lame.
4-Bring back the Zune screensaver for windows 8 and WP8, i dont care if it uses batterie on my phone. Make it an option to play with screen always on on phone.
5-Why the fuck does screen turn off on my surface while music is playing? I want the iption to keep it on while music is playing......what happens now? Screen goes blank and i get logged off Surface and music stops....I could be missing some setting and if this setting is lost somewhere and not in music app it should be!!!
Im really starting to see that some of this software was not ready for primetime, i still love my WP8 lumia 920 and windows 8, but fix this sheet asap!!

There is a way to prevent the screen from going off
Go into desktop
on the bottom right, go into power options
Somewhere in there you can edit how long until the screen turns off
 
They must have missed adding that to the metro section. I have my settings so that, if it's plugged in... screen never goes off. if it's on battery, goes off after 15 mins

If you disable the cloud syncing & metadata updating, it will work only with your local collection and not "re-download" any of the music you own.
And on the surface, if you music is stopping when the screen goes off you likely have something set up wrong. I had similar problems when playing all my media from microSD. To fix the problem, I just needed to reformat my SD card to NTFS from exFAT. If being logged out is forcing the music to stop, perhaps change something in your power settings/user options.

Why couldn't they just rename the Zune software "Xbox Music," let it sync WP8 phones, make it touch-friendly and be done with it?

File Explorer or Windows Media player, or the Windows phone app beta (but its pretty horrible).  None of these been what Zune offered though

I have a Zune HD, WP7, Surface RT, and this week a Nokia 920. Getting the surface to sync up all my music was a little painful (FYI MS it shouldn't be). I'm concerned how my music will continue to sync since I installed W8 on my sync PC and I'm going to have both sync clients on the same PC. Will the new Xbox music app still allow 10 tracks with my grandfathered Zune pass? I wish I didn't have to worry about this crap.....sigh...

So Apparently I'm late to the griping party (After all, as a Sprint customer, I never knew if/when I'd have to start worrying about this) but from what I've read here and in a couple other articles, Wireless Sync is gone??  Podcast OTA Downloading is gone?  WTF??  Two of my most loved, most used features... removed??
 
Is MS really, actively TRYING to confuse and alienate their customers??

As someone who is waiting for Verizon to have WP8 in stock before I buy my first Windows Phone, I'm really worried about this software. I love my Zunes and am a huge fan of the client software. All the apps in Windows 8 seem like quick demo apps that you might see at a developer conference. It sounds like the sync tool is one of the worst. How could MS miss the mark so badly when they are putting so much in to advertsing their phone platform?

As much as like Windows 8, creating some cheap, metro app for managing/syncing your Windows Phone with your computer just does not cut it, and probably is part of the problem.  Metro is nice and all but in most instances metro apps are dumbdown versions of their counterpart. And it clearly shows in this case.
They should dump the metro portion of this for now, and get REAL, non-Metro non-app software. A real software version.

I'll just take the opportunity to complain that Win8 broke the wireless sync between Zune and WP7, dammit.  But at least I still have all of the other benefits that Zune lords over Xbox Music.  You WP8 pathfinders really got hosed.  (I'd be in the same boat if my contract wasn't still in effect.)
Here's hoping the wrinkles are ironed out by the time my contract is up.

Oh Snap. I get my WP8 this week and Wireless SYNC is gone??? WTF MS? Get your sh!t in order! what are you doing?
It takes forever to get this stuff launched and then its broken or unfinished? Inexcusable.

This is only a minor improvement. It's still lacking!
My major problem is that you can have up to 5 devices. I just got a Lumia 920 and I still want to still use my Lumia 800. Although both are valid devices, I now have to use Zune with the Lumia 800 and this CRAP for my 920? That's just crazy! It shouldn't be too hard to come up with ONE program to effectively work with either phone OS!!!

This app is simply horrible! They still should can come up with a new app to with with both phones, but if they wanted to create a a new app speficif to Phone8 phones, at least give it the BASIC functionality of the Zune app, if not better functionality! RELEASING THIS PIECE OF S**T IS INEXCUSABLE! 

Have to agree the sync situation is both maddening and frustrating. The Metro app is a mess. The desktop app is better, but not without its own pain points. http://winsupersite.com/article/windows-phone-8/windows-phone-8-tip-pc-s.... WiFi sync and podcast support among the biggest oversights as far as my use goes. I don't mind wired sync, but the hole left by Zune, which I found a very capable program, is puzzling. 
 
I hope MS addresses this sooner than later.

Hey Daniel. I love the name for your phone. The WP Central team is the reason I call my phone the storm trooper as well.

This is a MAJOR problem and if they want to avoid people returning their phones within 30 days, this needs to be fixed. If someone is coming from iPhone, they will be totally lost on how to get music to their phone. In reality, it would be via XBOX Music but the entire experience is horrid and let me explain:
No Real Way To Sync - Yes, you can use Windows Media Player but it will not sync ZunePass/XBOX Music Pass songs.]Album Art- Spotty at best if you use the Windows Phone app to transfer music. If you download straight your phone, it seems to be OK
XBOX Music Cloud- What a mess! What is this info anyway? It isn't like Google Music and all of our music. It seems to be metadata from the main PC or Zune Software. I'd love to sync playlists and music between my devices but this thing is an absolute mess. Right now, I have this turned off on my devices.
Playlist Creation- Not only can't we sync our playlists from our PC (Zune Playlists) but you can't create one on the phone. And I once tried to create a playlist (streaming) so it would sync between my devices and it never showed up. Just the aforementioned mess in the music cloud shows up.
Delete Music Off Of Phone From Phone -  Is it me or is there no way to remove music off the phone from the phone itself?
This is not a gripe session but legimtate broken things that need to get fixed. At the VERY least, get a fix for Windows Media Player so it can sync ZunePass songs!

Glad this is getting a quick update. Hope there are meny more. But for the time being the syncing situation is a disaster. Podcasts? Playlists? WiFi? 

Yeah...a casual music listener may be OK with transfering/removing...but the detachment from XBOX Music is what gets me...and no clear way for the casual listener to download music...

Most if us are, I dunno, the early-adopter techie types, the diehards, the hard-core fans..... And we're confused and frustrates by the music situation. Now can you just imagine what all the rest of the people who aren't like us that bought a wp8 last weekend are gonna feel when they try to put music on their new phone?

This has the potential to be a bit of a sh!tstorm for MS.

Since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, issues are starting to surface. Now I'm thinking twice about purchasing my Lumia 920 and the Surface. They just don't work well together.

Your verbage in this article is again misleading. It appears there really is no "sync" functionality as is mentioned. It just allows transfer manually. This is a huge Microsoft fail. For them to go to market with the much anticipated WP8 with a piece of sh!t media management tool with no wireless sync, no podcast management, no autoplaylist sync is mind boggling.

Microsoft, in attempting to simplify managing media file management, managed to make the process MORE cumbersome. How is that even possible? WHat makes it even worse for me is that I LOVED the Zune interface. Zune was hands down my favorite MS product in the last decade and they decided to shelve it. 
Luckily I still have my Dell Venue Pro which has now become my new MP3 player until further notice. If they can figure out the XBox music app maybe I'll consider it but until then my old phone = my new Zune.

Your all idiots, and don't even realise what is happening to you.
'Their' all collecting information on you, in your 'Cloud'.
Your phone numbers, e-mail addresses, texts, music preferences and any 'other' information you share.
Give ot 10 years, and you'll all be wondering why you can't have a piss with them knowing about it.
My information is for me, and know one else, its non of their business.
Windows Phone 8 has to go, its too much of an invasion of your privacy, what with facebook, twatter and all that other rubbish.
Rant over, and time to swap to Samsung.