Windows Phone 7 and Exchange ActiveSync

By a happy coincidence Windows Phone 7 had it’s technical unveiling at Mix 2010 just as I was wrapping up my previous write-up on ActiveSync. Microsoft also released an emulator for developers to start coding for the new OS. If you’ve been following the news mill you’ll know by now that there are some major changes this time around which differs from previous platform upgrades. While you will still be able to leverage knowledge like C# you have to make do with Silverlight or XNA, and compared to previous releases of Windows Mobile this breaks quite a few applications. (Only OEMs get native code access, and even they will be restricted as to which native APIs they can use.)

The emulator as delivered from Microsoft has a few limitations though:
– It requires you to install a “Phone Edition” of Visual Studio. (Which may come in conflict with other Visual Studio stuff you have installed previously.)
– It does not run in a virtualized environment like Hyper-V or Virtual PC. Probably because of the DirectX 10 requirement.
– You have to start it through Visual Studio.
– You can only use your own apps, and Internet Explorer.

And while it’s not a limitation as such it’s an x86 build, so for those hoping to get a hacked version onto their HTC HD2 there’s no solution yet. (I would not be surprised if some crazy guy managed to disassemble it, re-compile for ARM, and get it to run on a three year old device just for the fun of it. I’d be mighty impressed though.)

Well, let’s see… I can live with it requiring Visual Studio, and as luck has it I have a physical Windows desktop I can install to. Check.

You can run it stand alone if you install Process Monitor, start the emulator in Visual Studio, and capture the command line it invokes (in Process Monitor). It will look like this:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft XDE\1.0\XDE.exe” “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\WindowsPhone\v7.0\Emulation\Images\WM70C1.bin” /VMID {GUID}
The GUID is the reason you have to capture through Process Monitor.

While I cannot provide links or further info, there is also a method that will allow you to “unlock” the image and use all the goodness, and not just the browser.

Now what is the first thing a guy checks after getting access to the entire OS? Setup mail synchronization of course! Here’s what it looks like:
Locate “Mail setup” in the menu.

If you choose “Outlook” it seems you need a functioning AutoDiscover setup. Since I don’t have this on the Exchange I’m testing against I chose “advanced setup” which will let you specify the server address manually.

Enter your email address and password.

Seems kind of different to the present wizard, but only after providing the address you get to choose what kind of account it is.

Settings – upper half of wizard page.

Settings – lower half of wizard page.

The account will pop up with the familiar Outlook logo (and the account name you provided) on the menu.

Upon entering and starting to synchronize I get a info message telling me I need to apply some policies. I have checked Power-on-Password and encryption, and unchecked the box that will let non-provisionable devices sync.

Defining the password.

Lo-and behold – I’ve got a mail in my inbox. (Notice the filters – “all”, “unread” and “urgent”.)


Since Outlook 2010 introduces the possibility to have multiple Exchange accounts it is not entirely surprising that Windows Phone 7 will make no fuss when configuring multiple “Outlook accounts” on your device. (No, I don’t know how it plays out with different policies in effect.) I’m seeing some problems syncing in general, like reluctance to sync before I send a new mail to the inbox, but it is a CTP/Beta so far so I guess we’ll have to accept this much currently 🙂

The device reports the following info about itself:
user agent: MSFT-SPhone/7.0.6077
DeviceModel: XDeviceEmulator
DeviceOS : Windows CE 7.0.6077
DeviceType: SmartPhone
ASProtocolVersion: 14.0

I don’t know if this is a beta thing, or a change of direction, but as you can see it reports itself as a SmartPhone – not PocketPC, even though it has a touch screen. (Might it be that the difference between a SmartPhone and PocketPC is the absence/presence of a physical keyboard? This would be a wild guess of course, and I really wouldn’t know.)

This is just my first impressions after a very quick spin of the new OS. I expect to be investigating relevant matters further. And when I say relevant I mean related to topics usually covered on this blog. While I love the Zune interface, and see this as a potential iPod replacement, I’m not covering those features here.

You are probably also understanding to the fact that this is an early build, and before we see actual devices hitting the stores later this year it may all change…

23. November 2010: Update – I’ve posted an article with some more details on Windows Phone 7 vs Exchange:

11 thoughts on “Windows Phone 7 and Exchange ActiveSync”

  1. Hi, interesting comments..maybe you can help…I have the emulateor running and have entered all my exchnage account details but when I try and sync it says there is no cellular or wifi data connection ?

  2. I keep getting an error that there is no celular data connection ? IE works OK and connects though ?

  3. Yes, there’s something funny about the emulator and network access. I have problems accessing some sites in IE, whereas others work ok.
    Same with ActiveSync – I could not get it working when I used RDP to connect to the computer running the emulator. At first I could only get it to work with an internal IP for the Exchange, but after closing down and restarting the emulator a couple times it worked. Don’t know why.
    I also found that Windows XP Mode refuses to start when the emulator is running because virtual services are already being used. So it’s definitely different than the previous device emulators…

  4. Well, I started writing an update on WP7 and ActiveSync yesterday, but you’ve beat me on the policies part of it 🙂 (I’ll be including some other findings as well so I’ll still put up a post though.)
    Useful info though, and most likely relevant for those that are reading this post so thanks for the links!

  5. Someone has put a lot of effort into the Wikipedia article, and it’s probably correct on most of the points. What is unclear to me is whether the settings detailed have actually been tested or if it’s just copied from another documentation source.
    I always test the things I document on this site, and you can usually be sure I’m not just assuming things to work a certain way (unless I specifically state that I for some reason have not tested it).
    Since this article was based on a beta build I have updated some of my findings, (in a new article linked above), when I got an actual device runnning RTM to test with. So even if this article indicates that WP7 will support encryption this isn’t actually the case.
    One incorrect detail I see in the Wikipedia article is the support for disabling attachment download which my tests indicate is supported.
    Are there any specific contradictory details between my article and Wikipedia you had in mind?

  6. Please where could I download this emulator, I seems to to find the appropriate link on the page.


  7. I eventually got the SDK and an unlocked bin file. With the default bin file, I observed there is limited configuration possibilities and I cannot setup any MailAccount. I can access http and https websites as long as it is not Intranet.

    However, the unlocked bin file that offers more configuration possibilities only access http websites and ExchangeActiveSync configuration is not just going through on the Emulator.

  8. Yeah, that’s unfortunately by design. The emulator is limited as to what you can do, and the unlocked image can’t use SSL. (I’m assuming that since you have to break through some security layer to unlock the image it possibly breaks something related to SSL.)
    I’ve given up/accepted that MSFT hasn’t released a proper emulator. (Well, you can do the developer-related stuff on it, I’ll obviously give them that.)
    But I now have a physical device running Windows Phone so I don’t have to rely on the emulator that much any more.

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