SolutionBase: Setting up and configuring a Microsoft SmartPhone

A SmartPhone combines the power of a PDA with the communications ability of a cell phone. To get it working properly, you need to first set it up and configure it. This article gives you some tips that can help.

If you've recently purchased a Microsoft SmartPhone, you probably can't wait to get it all set up. The set up procedure is a little bit different on each model of SmartPhone, so you will have to follow the manufacturer's instructions to some extent. However, this article will serve as an overview of what to expect from the setup process.

The basics

Before you can start configuring your new SmartPhone , you will have to activate it. The first step in doing so is to locate your phone's Electronic Serial Number (ESN) and write it down. The ESN's location varies depending on the brand of the phone, but is usually located in the battery compartment.

Once you have located the ESN and made note of it, you will need to charge up your phone before you can activate it. After installing your battery and charging it per the manufacturer's instructions, you must contact your cellular provider (using a different phone) and request activation. Your cellular carrier will ask you for the phone's ESN, so be sure to have it on hand.

Attaching the phone to your PC

Once the phone has been activated, it's time to connect it to your PC. Your new phone should have come with a docking cradle that attaches to your PC via a USB cable. Before you attach the cradle to your PC though, you should install the software that came with the phone.

SmartPhones ship with a CD that contains the device drivers for the docking cradle and a copy of ActiveSync. ActiveSync is a utility that keeps your phone synchronized with Microsoft Outlook. This means that if you should receive a new E-mail message, create a new contact, or update your calendar, the changes will be automatically copied to your phone. If your phone isn't on the cradle at the time that the changes are made, the changes will be copied to your phone the next time that you dock it in the cradle.

ActiveSync works the other way around too. For example, imagine that at 2:00 in the afternoon, you take your phone off of the cradle and head to an offsite meeting. You arrive at the meeting a little early and realize that you haven't checked your E-mail since before lunch. You open your Inbox, and you can see which messages have and have not been read. You read all of your unread mail and respond to the appropriate messages.

Later, after your meeting, you decide to go back to your office. Outlook still thinks that you haven't even read the messages in your Inbox, much less responded to them. However, when you plug your SmartPhone back into the cradle, it synchronizes with Outlook. ActiveSync tells Outlook which messages you have read. If messages that you have replied to have not been transmitted yet, then those responses are placed into Outlook's Outbox. Messages that have arrived in your Inbox since your 2:00 departure are then copied to your SmartPhone. If you happened to collect any new contact information or update your calendar while you were away, then those changes are copied to Outlook.

As you can see, ActiveSync maintains a two-way synchronization between your PC and your SmartPhone. Before you can use ActiveSync though, you have to load it onto your PC. When you run the Setup program on the CD that came with your phone, it should install ActiveSync (and the device driver for the docking cradle) onto your PC.

Although you could technically start configuring ActiveSync after the installation completes, I recommend going to the Microsoft Web site and verifying that you have the most current version of ActiveSync since many phones ship with older versions. It's tempting to just forget about running Setup off of the CD and just go download the latest version of ActiveSync. You have to run the Setup program off of the CD first though because you need the device drivers that the CD contains. If you want to download the latest version of ActiveSync, you can get it from Microsoft's Web site.

Once you have installed the latest version of ActiveSync, plug the cradle into your PC's USB port, power up your SmartPhone, and insert it into the cradle. When you do, Windows will ask you if the SmartPhone is a guest or if it is a partner device. If you choose to make the SmartPhone a guest, you will be able to move files between the SmartPhone and the PC, but that's about it. If you make the SmartPhone a partner to the PC, then ActiveSync will keep your SmartPhone and your PC synchronized. Normally, you would only create a partnership on your own PC. If you ever need to attach the SmartPhone to someone else's PC, you would almost always use a guest profile. If need be though, a guest profile can be upgraded to a partnership relatively easily.

Setting owner information

Now that your SmartPhone is synchronized with your PC, it's time to enter the owner information for your phone. The owner information doesn't have a functional purpose. It is only there as a way of identifying the phone's owner, should the phone be lost.

To enter the phone's owner information, click the Start button and choose option 8, settings. Press the [9] button to see more settings options and then choose option number 4, Owner Information. Enter the owner information as shown in Figure A. You will have to use the telephone buttons to type in the information. For example, to type the letter B, you would have to press the [2] button twice. The * button toggles between upper and lowercase letters. The [#] button is used as the spacebar, and the [1] button is used to generate symbols such as the period and the @ sign. Press the Done key when you have finished entering your owner information.

Figure A

Enter your owner information into the phone.

Protecting your phone

The next thing that you should do is to protect your phone with a password. This is important because your phone will contain your contacts, calendar, and a copy of your most recent E-mail messages. This information could be very damaging if a competitor were to steal your phone. Furthermore, if someone were to steal your phone, they could send E-mail messages on your behalf and could also run up your phone bill. Therefore, it would behoove you to lock down your phone when it isn't in use.

To do so, press the Start button and then press the [8] button to access the Settings menu. When the Settings menu appears, press the [9] button to access the Additional Settings menu. Finally, press the [8] button to access the Security option. When the Security menu appears, press the [1] button to enable the phone lock. You will now see the screen shown in Figure B. This screen asks you how long the phone should be idle for before the phone is locked down. You are also prompted to enter and then confirm a password.

Figure B

It's a good idea to password protect your phone.

Set and ready to go

There are other configuration options that you can play with that effect things like the appearance of the desktop or power management. However, these types of configuration options are more about personal preferences than functionality.