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Sync Desktop
216

Windows Phone desktop sync app for Windows 7 and 8 updated

When Windows Phone 8 launched we lost the ability to use Zune as our desktop syncing solution. A move that angered a lot of users. The replacement apps on Windows 8 and the desktop weren’t a step backwards, they were a stumble. Slowly but surely, Microsoft has been improving that app. After 3 beta releases, the desktop app has finally hit RTM according to Microsoft. Let’s see what all the hubbub is about.

First off, my heart is broken with no ability to wireless sync. With that out of the way, here’s what’s new in this latest version of the Windows Phone desktop app for Windows.

  • Expanded podcast support – Support for iTunes podcasts has been a useful feature in the preview versions of this app, but many people get their podcasts from other sources. Now, as long as your podcasts are saved in a folder, you can automatically sync them to your phone.
  • Simplified updates – previous versions of this app required you to install updates from windowsphone.com. Now the app tell you when improvements are available, so you can install them with a click.
  • Flexible library selection – To provide more flexibility, the app can now sync files from any library or folder on your computer, even if they’re on an external hard drive.
  • Many bug fixes – We’ve rolled up your feedback on the preview versions and made fixes to improve performance.

Windows Phone Desktop

The improvements are a step in the right direction. While it’s no Zune, it’s certainly a little easier to manage your Windows Phone 8 device with this desktop app versus the Windows 8 app. Although the Windows Phone Central staff is split between our preferences for syncing between those two apps. We’d like if this updated desktop app showed thumbnail previews for images.

Anyways, what do you guys think of this updated desktop app for managing your Windows Phone 8 devices? Do you prefer this or the Windows 8 app for syncing? Sound off below.

You can download the desktop app for Windows 7 and 8 right here.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

Thanks for the tip Jeff D!

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Reader comments

Windows Phone desktop sync app for Windows 7 and 8 updated

216 Comments

Nah. Surface 2.0 doesn't looked like that. It still sports the tablet-like version, with the start button in its bezel.

I think it's a MacBook Air...
edit: So sorry, that's the one on the RIGHT. Sigh. It's still early for me...
Left? Dunno, but it definitly looks nice!

I think it isn't an existing device. But IF Microsoft is developing a Ultrabook with this beautyful design (Surface-like edges, colour, small bezel) I'm the one buying it the very first day!

The app doesn't allow you to make playlist BUT there's an easier way, using your file explorer.
Go into your File Explorer > Phone > Music ( folder ) > Select the songs you wish to have in your playlist, right click, Create Playlist.
if you wish to add more songs to that playlist in future, just drag and drop the songs into that playlist file.

That is easier but we shouldn't have to do that. I don't understand how and why Microsoft would take a step backwards from Zune....

I agree.  The entire Zune/Music/Podcast experience on WP8,Win8,Win8RT is my biggest dissapointment. It is like they threw away all the Zune code and got rid of anyone with experience developing software for music and video playback.

God! Do you know how complicated that is for a super organized collection like mine?
Phone/Music/(album artist)/((lbum name)/(song title).mp3
I can't just select all these songs -_-

Ah good point, i always forget about that. But will files stay selected when i search for a new song?

OR.. use zune to make your playlists! it works really well; only way it could be better if that great app you use to manage and play your music also somehow (probably utilizing magic) allowed you to sync content to your device.. i know we're a ways off, but imagine what a great future that would be.......

Have you successfully synced those Zune made playlists to your phone? Because I haven't gotten it to work (before this update,not sure if its fixed).

yeah, I use zune exclusively for playback and playlist creation. the sync app since v1 has always worked for me with them

LONG LIVE ZUNE! Yes, it was so simple, elegant, and easy to manage music, podcasts, and syncing. The only reason that I can think for MS to kill it would be that the people making that decision didn't use it and probably used iPhones, ipods, and iTunes instead. Believed it even more when they said to use iTunes to sync your podcasts on your winphone 8... WTH MS???
SMH :'(

YOU ARE A GENIOUS!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!! Why did I not know this???? Yes this isn't near as easy to make playlists as using Zune, but this allows me to make playlists while actually using the songs already on my phone.
This is an amazing workout around, b/c before if any playlist was made on the computer, it would sync but any subscription content on the playlist wouldn't play. The only way to make playlists with subscription content was to make them directly on the phone.
But this is leaps and bounds easier and better, and you can actually edit the playlist after it is made.
Again, THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Yes you can and its even easier with the "checklist" addition, but you still have to add the first song to now playing, then add checklist items, then save playlist.

While it's nice that they've updated this, I've never been a fan of syncing clients. Drag/drop is much easier and quicker. (of course I don't sync music to my phone, so that may explain why I feel this way)

I am happy!

In all seriousness though, I'm glad Microsoft took both approaches. They have drag and drop for people who want that and a sync client (albeit this one still needs to be improved a bit) for people who prefer that.

You cans drag and drop music pass music. If you could I would agree with you in this case. But it bugs me that I can't simply copy my music from my PC to my phone and vice versa.

Not sure why YOU can't do that. All the music on my Lumia 920 is on there as a result of dragging and dropping folders of music. Works just fine for me.

He means music that is not meant to transfer possibly, such as music that wasn't purchased just downloaded via Zune/Xbox Music.
I'm loving drag and drop. I absolutely hated how long it took to sync video with Zune and that the file had to be converted to mp4 on Zune.

Well, on my iPad, I always have my complete Music library with me. Its around 60GB big. The songs are synced with the cloud and I can stream every song of them or download my favs to hear them offline. My playlists are in the cloud too so I have them on my PC and pad. When I get a new song, I just import it to my itunes music library and it becomes available on my iPad - without copying files or syncing, just automatically. THATS how it should work! And now try to manage such a big library with that win8 music app lol...

That's actually how XBOX MUSIC works. It's just that it seems a lot of people are unaware of this. That's how I have it on ny WP8:-)

Ohhh. Well, none of my music came by way of Zune, Xbox or Nokia music. Just drag and drop and it works.  I'm glad just plugging in my phone shows all the folders like another thumb drive. I drop ring tones in the ringtone folder and music in the music folder. Done. Zune for me was an interface I really didn't need.  This way is more quick and dirty. But it works.

I just tried installing and it pops up with a message saying I need to install Zune software.
 
Is that why the Windows Store Windows Phone app also crashes on my pc?

Pity we can't have a small footprint app like the Windows Phone Connector on Mac.
 

Well, after it had installed I clicked the icon and waited. Clicked it a few more times. Checked task manager. Got my Windows Phone and plugged it in. Next thing I notice is a little splash screen style popup saying I need to install Zune.

Perhaps the Zune install popup is the automated response to me plugging in my 7.8 phone and completely unrelated to this new desktop client software?

I really wish my Windows Phone 8 device would ask for Zune. The current sync set up for Wp8 truly sucks.

What I would love to see is the ability to wirelessly sync with my desktop. I have a Nokia Lumina 920 with wireless charging pad so it's a backwards step to have to sync my photos, music & videos.

I didn't even realize there was a desktop application. I've been using the Windows 8 app, which isn't very good. Is the desktop version better?

Desktop app? I just use file explorer to drag and drop, much simpler and much, much faster. 3 gig movie files transfer in less then two minutes!

The metro app is a killer when trying to sync music (unless you "Select All"), having to go into every folder is plain crazy. Agree with other posters though that the desktop app isn't much better.
 

From what I've seen, this is barely better.  It's under "podcasts" now but it's just an mp3 file and there's no RSS information included that lets you subscribe to it or access other episodes.  Why can't they just add an RSS URL the way Zune did?  This is not how you sync podcasts.

agreed. I should just be able to connect my phone to my laptop, and have it automatically sync any files that are not already on my device. I have no interest in syncing my entire collection every time I connect. the only way around this that I have found is to just sync smart playlists from iTunes of my new songs

Yes Indeed. I loved wireless sync. I loved dropping songs into playlists and then the songs transferring seamlessly to my phone. I loved listening to my podcast (which was auto downloaded that required an auto login) on my desktop, then picking it up on my phone seamlessly in my truck never having to think about which file, date, or where I was at. We have gone so far backwards and it seems we will never get these abilities again.

And another great thing was if you removed songs from your Zune playlist and then synced it to your phone it would remove them from your phone. Talk about easy and mindless music management.

My kids have ipods because MS kills stuff for no good reason. I was going to get them a Zune... Furthermore they/someone should make a non-phone Windows Phone. They really should just bring the Zune back running WP8. Idiots. And the Zune software.

I agree completely. I almost wish they called it something other than Windows Phone so they could have mobile devices (without phones) running it. ha But yeah Zune support needs to come back immediately.

For me, it's like the new SimCity it might be shiny and new, but its broken and no where near as good as its predecessor.

iTunes is amazing but I buy Windows Phone not iPhone.

Give me back Zune so I can managed my music, buy music, buy videos and apps like I did happily with my Windows Phone 7

you can still use zune to buy all that. The new app allows podcast syncing from folders now, so you use zune to buy and manage everything PC side, and Sync + Explorer to manage and sync content to/on the phone. Yes, its still broken, but you no longer need iTunes.

"Amazing," is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of iTunes. The day I uninstalled it from my computer was a happy, happy day. 

Its because most PCs these days are going 64-bit, but iTunes only comes in a 32-bit flavor (the only thing different about the x64 installer is the drivers), and it doesnt even play well with the architecture its programmed for, let alone 64-bit (to which is worse). :P

It's a big, fat resource hog that's still slow, even on the speediest hardware, and it doesn't support the biggest lossless format in the world (and the iTunes store doesn't even offer lossless music purchases of any sort).  

iTunes is a bloated POS that never got near my desktop. Dealing with my son's PC and wife's iPad was a quick lesson in itunes masochism.

Please no. Then I will be forced to convert movie files and sync them which takes forever. With Zune I couldn't carry movies to play via external devices because they had to be mp4 in order for crappy Zune to sync them. Now with WP8 I can take a 4gb 1080p mkv file and drag and drop it from file explorer in less then a few minutes.

No one is asking to take away drag and drop, we just want Zune for syncing instead of these terrible apps. I sync almost exclusively through playlists, drag and drop would be terrible for that. Hell, these new apps don't even reliably sync the stuff that I have. They randomly and inexplicably decide some songs on my playlist of songs that I own shouldn't be synced over to my phone. With my WP7 I could download a song on my phone and it would automatically sync to my PC when I got home, now I have to search for it and dl it again to have it on my PC.
It's frustrating because the Zune HD and desktop software are what made me interested in Windows Phone in the first place and now the music and syncing experience is almost the worst part of the phone.

I agree completely. Zune was one of the biggest selling points when I got my Trophy. And it's not like they have to make it work exclusively with Zune, they just need to make it so you can use Zune. Now I just have a phone with pretty tiles and way too many missing features. ha

Hear, Hear. I got other people to buy winphones for Zune and then they had to put up with this alpha crap software.

its possibly converting them. one of my music files was converted to m4a when I dropped it over in explorer. I think the driver for Windows Phone 8 comes with some added features for conversion.

I really do think it is short sighted to not have a Zune running WP8 OS. I'm not getting my kids a phone, but this platform is better for gaming than the Vita and 3ds in my opinion, not to mention the app diversity. Its too bad.

Don't even have to do that anymore.  I dragged my audiobooks into my Podcasts folder on my desktop, then started the application (using the desktop app, not the "metro" app), and they showed up on the "Podcasts" section.  Synced them with my phone, and they do show up under "Podcasts" (the "series" is the "album" field from the ID3 tags -- if you don't have that field set, it just shows as "Unknown album").
If you browse your phone's file system, you will find the files under "Music" in a folder with the same album title, but the phone seems to keep track of which ones are music and which ones are podcasts, somehow -- if you go into "music" on the phone, the books/podcasts do not show up, but they do show under "podcasts".
Even better news, is it stored the files on my SD card, leaving my 810's spartan main storage alone.

Yes, that.  Windows (at least Windows 8, but I thought 7 had it as well) has five "libraries": Documents, Music, Pictures, Podcasts, and Videos.  But even if you don't have a Podcasts library, you can tell the Phone Sync app what folders it should scan for Podcasts, by clicking "Add Folder" on the Podcasts page.

When I click add folder, I get an eror message "We couldn't find your podcast library, but you can create one in windows explorer". I created a new library and called it Podcasts, but I still cannot add it.I don't have ITunes installed as not an Apple fan. can anyone help?

It needs to be called PodcastSeries. I put it in my Documents folder on Windows 7, but I'm dont know whether thats where it has to be

I use WMP for syncing my music. Tried to use this before and it was awful.

I just consider this whole syncing thing a lost feature when you upgrade to WP8. I used to sync up my old ipod touch for audio books, podcasts and music all of the time. Now with WP8 I never do. PITA.

Nope. From your other comment about only sycing the songs you want, this would probably work great for you too. It has all of your songs/albums in a nice display. You just drag the ones you want over to your phone and it syncs up. All within WMP. Honestly, I think it is the best way currently. Only thing I don't like is that when I look at my entire collection there is not an easy way to see which songs are synced. But...if you drag a song, album, or artist to your phone it will not duplicate it if it is already there, which is awesome.

I haven't done these, but I am pretty sure you can do pictures and videos too.

yeah I just started checking it out. unfortunately the tags for my songs that it reads are different from what I have in iTunes currently. so after I update the titles of some songs, I will try syncing. thanks for the response. do you have to drag and drop every time you want to sync? or does it update your phone when you connect it?

It remembers what is on there. Not sure if that is the answer. I normally rip my CD's with WMP now. So if I already have songs on my WP and I want to add more, I just plug it in and use WMP. I only have to add the new songs I want on my phone, all the other ones are still there. I would have to go into my phone folder (I think on the left hand side) on WMP and remove the ones I don't want on there anymore. Hopefully that answers the question. :-) I honestly miss itunes from my ipod touch. It seemed to work well for everything I want. WMP for me is somewhat similar, but limited with all of the features itunes had. I do wish there was a Skip While Shuffling option within WMP like on itunes.
One thing I never did with itunes was have it manage my music. That way it was always the way I wanted it.

Same here.  I'm not sure why they make an app when WMP works perfectly fine.  You can create custom play lists with all kinds of rules then sync those to your phone.  Works great for me.

Dear Windows Phone lovers, seems to me like an awesome idea, i know this is off topic but i would like to know your opinions.
Closing apps like you do on Windows 8 on Windows Phone, swiping from the top of te screen to the bottom to close it.
 
Please share your opinion!
Greetzz.

I guess but tbh I would rarely if ever have any use for it.

How about volume control separation, notification center, sound profiles, custom SMS and email alerts, better music syncing experience etc.

I think many people will take advantage of it.... & yess all those you mentioned would be welcome features too!
 
Greetzz.

Yes, not needing any other software is a very good thing - because that software inevitably sucks.  Good riddance to Zune!

Really disappointing that this issue has not been addressed/corrected yet, no wireless sync to me is pretty terrible, losing Zune sucked and being that I use all locally stored music makes it even worse when metadata doesn't even transfer properly.

Seriously MS pull your finger out on Xbox music its a bad experience and one of the few things I really do not like about wp8.

The metadata transfers properly, it's just that "Connect with Xbox Music," screws it all up. After having problems with a few albums in particular - meticulously ensuring that the relevant tags were correct so it didn't split one album in to multiples - I finally figured out that XBM was the culprit. Turned off the "Connect" and everything has been fine, since. I don't get the snazzy background images or the artist bios, but it's small price to pay.

You're going to continue to have this problem if you work with multiple music software. Apparently not all of them get their "metadata" from the same place. I have turned off the data gathering on WMP and Zune and just use XBOX MUSIC data. I gave up trying to fix it since the software is gonna change it anyways. Plus it's easier for me to have XBOX MUSIC Match what I own to the cloud. Doing so, all my music is the same throughout my pc and phone. At least the ones "MS" has rights to.

Finally I can sync my podcasts where they actually belong, a much needed update. Good job MS.

Update Zune client! Change the freakin name and logo to Xbox music or whatever, keep the same functions. We'll forget it was ever called Zune to begin with..!!

Or just let people use it to sync music to Windows Phone 8 devices. Seriously. Not even asking for an update...just let us bloody use an already great client.

"while it's no Zune"... It never will be! So this is a giant waste of time. Just bring everything Zune back and slap an Xbox logo on top of it for crying out loud.

Perfect solution. I have no idea why MS went this route if they didn't have a sync client better than what they already had.

I've been using BeeMP3 to sync and it's been the most reliable.  I'll have to give this a shot.
 
Does anyone else have the issue where the phone tries to rename all your music by checking it against Xbox Music?  If I don't disable that, I end up with 6 copies of everything, but still only one copy of the file.  Very frustrating.

NO DRM video = FAIL
MSFT is so fking clueless.  This is why my lumia 920 is in my desk drawer and I have been forced to go back to android for my smart phone needs.
 
I was so ready to dump all my $$ into the MSFT echo system, so sad.  Still don't get why they broken DRM video support from windows 7.

If I mark a song from music pass to be available on my W8 PC or Surface RT collection as a stream from cloud it shows up on my 920 music collection. If I add a song to my 920 it never shows up on my PC or Surface. Music has become frustrating to deal with.

I used to love the automatic syncronisation of music on Zune. Tracks I've purchased 'on the go' would be backed up to my PC and songs I have marked with the broken heart would be removed. Such simplicity. I guess such a thing is too much to ask for with Wp8. 
As things stand, Wp7 is better suited for my needs. I don't really use the latest apps that are Wp8 exclusive. I'm more about music & videos.

Very nice explanation of one of the great features of the Zune PC software. (The Zune PC software still exists and is still amazing, but MS screwed up and "broke" the connection with WP8.)
I want the Zune PC software, connected to sync with WP8 and I want it to be wireless (WiFi, internet) too.

As cool as this appears its still quite sad and pathetic. I really miss Zune. The Windows 8 app is a mess and the desktop is so bland and unintuitive it makes me gag. I can't understand why Zune couldn't have been renamed and repurposed for WP8 as well, wouldn't that appease to everyone's needs? Am I alone here?

The number one thing missing from Xbox music and the syncing is autoplaylists (existed in zune) give me that back and I'd be pretty happy

Why are you all complaining lol just use wmp to sync music it makes life much easier. But a official Zune Support would be nice. Feel like Microsoft ditched zune

Between this fiasco and the lack of gapless playback I now sport both a Windows phone (as a phone) and my old iPhone 4 for playing music. It's si utterly crap that this kind of stuff has still not been sorted. The music app on the phone is a joke and the sync / transfer debacle is just ridiculous! No consistency and no quality in this area at all. Such a shame. If things don't improve fast I shall probably nit be choosing another windows phone when I upgrade; a shame as I generally fund the base OS far superior to the competition.

Microsoft has said gapless playback is not going to be supported... back in the Zune days. Let it go, only a small % want it... It ain't happening.

The thing I dislike most about this client is that it does not appear to store an index of media after it locates everything on the machine. I don't want to go through it crawling hundreds of gigs of stuff I have stored every time I launch it.
They've made it better, but, it's still far from good as far as I'm concerned.

I am so freaking pissed off about this situation.
 
No wireless sync?!?!
No auto-playlists?!?!
No podcast sync that works with subscriptions?!?!
 
I don't even care about the awful UI and the loss of Zune, just give me these basic features from 5+ years ago!

Now this is what I am waiting for! Don't have faith that it will ever happen though. Maybe through a third party or cloud sync.

NO wireless Sync??? Oh that's right, we don't know how to make that work. Thanks for nothing Microsoft!

the sad thing is that Zune is the standard here, but Zune sucked just as much. Even iTunes is better. Just enable freaking drag and drop... drag from a folder into a playlist on my phone. COME ON!

Totally Disagree. The Zune PC software and the Zune (Xbox) Marketplace are amazing.
You miss the point. We had one point of management for all our media on multiple devices. Your answer to, just do it manually each time, is a huge step backward.

iTunes sucks So Much! Its nothing but a convoluted apple mess.  ZUNE was clean, easy and awesome, Clearly ahead of its time wether for music mangement or syncing.  iTunes didn't wireless sync until years after ZUNE.  ZUNE did drag and drop into a playlist that auto synced with your phone including deleting if you removed it from the playlist. The only valid complaint for Zune imho is video conversion which you now can bypass with drag and drop from win explorer.
 

...it doesnt display podcast description and artwork.... at least it displays them under podcasts though, instead of music... -,-"

Unfortunately, I'm having the same problem.  I can't sync anything.  The Metro version of this app works, but it does not have podcast support.

Yep. Apparently you can automatically sync podcasts if they reside in a designated "Podcasts" folder...somewhere....but...where?

The problem with the desktop app is that it never and i repeat never automatically syncs stuff from ny phone to the pc, never. I always need to do it manually. That's why i personally prefer the win8 app.

Guys, just download Nokia music. It's a pain to find the actual download but once you install on your computer syncing is soooo much easier. Reminds me of Zune, which I miss.

Tell us more. Does it work with WP8? Does it sync Zune (Xbox) Music Pass (DRM) Music or just music that you own that isn't DRM? Podcast features? Does it sync with the SD card too?
If the Nokia Music PC software is hard to find, where is it?
I want the Zune PC software to sync with WP8.

Well... I can't really see any improvement when syncing from iTunes. All my podcasts are still in no kind of order beyond being in their own folder. I struggle to see why it is so difficult to have them listed in chronological order. I go into a folder for podcast and they are all over the place, not even in alphabetical.

YEP... can't make chicken salad out of chicken sh@t.  They need to give it up and give us back ZUNE.

Installed on both RT and Windows 8 and does not work on either with my Nokia 820! All I get is a blank black screen so not much of an improvement really!

Well I can't even install the latest version, wants me to uninstall old version, but can't find the old .MSI file to uninstall the old version on my Windows 8 PC

I just right-clicked the tile on the start screen, selected "Uninstall" from the menu at the bottom, and it took me right to the Add/Remove Programs list with the client highlighted. Uninstalled itself.

When I attempt to uninstall I get a message that can't find the source of "older" version to uninstall. Scanned disk and no such MSI (or MST file).

Everytime I try to transfer stuff from my pc to mobile using this app, there appears a continue button which freezes and you click it nothing happens/Damn ! It pisses me off :-( what to do guys !

Please explain further? I have always had calendar and contacts syncing. I had it on my prior Windows devices and still have it on my WP8 Lumia 822. Always had it? I use Outlook on the PC, on the phone, and the web app on the internet. What am I missing?

This is the biggest load of rubbish ever.
I just downloaded 'Windows Phone for Desktop'. 
Onto my Laptop. Which isn't a desktop. 
On this same laptop I already have a 'Windows Phone' app installed which I downloaded from the Windows Store.
Why do I now have, and need, two separate apps?
Talk about confusing.
And all the while, both apps are a massive piece of crap. 
'Windows Phone for Desktop' is now 'Checking for music updates...'. What the hell's that? And why is it taking 20 minutes?
Zune dicked on both of them, AND the mac connector, and at the time it wasn't even very good. 
I find it so frustrating that Microsoft, king of software, can't make decent software for an otherwise decent phone. 

WP Central articles have always been very unusually quiet on the media features that we have lost and need? This has been "broken" from the very beginning of WP8? Paul Thurrott mentions it and wrote some "work arounds" in his WP e-book, but no real "outrage" from him either?
I'm frustrated and outraged!

i use the Windows Phone app (Modern UI app) on my Windows 8 PC. I think it's better (it has also been updated and now supports adding ringtones and playlists too). One time I tried desktop app (preview 3) and it started deleting some photos from my phone (perhaps I had them moved from the default folder. Further the Modern UI app copies all the pics as well as the videos to a single folder, while desktop app copies videos to the Videos library.

I have a ? about WP8 - Ive been on the fence with whether to switch from Android to WP8 (Lumia 928 specifially), and I am curious if I need to use a sync application to put files on the phone?  This seems to be very similar to iTunes, which I absolutely despise using for my iPad, to the point that I refuse to use it, and is the reason i would not touch a iPhone with a 10 foot pole.  I know that WP8 has no file explorer, but when i plug the phone into the computer is there a file explorer that i can just add whatever files i want, or do i have to use the stupid sync software?

You can use drag and drop OR this sync software. Obviously using drag and drop means YOU have to do everything manually. Where as the app automates syncing of common files like photos etc.

i first tried the beta version of this a few months ago and it wasn't functioning (DURRRR - it's BETA). Can't wait to try this out later so I can finally sync all my MP3's and PORN!....

I'm curious how Microsoft are testing this app. It's been consistently bad since they pushed out the first preview and with each release it just becomes differently broken.
 
It now only syncs half of my unplayed podcasts onto the device before giving up in a welter of MTP error codes (0x80042009).
 

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