Mobile

Windows Phone 7: Mac sync coming this year, will support removable storage (sort of)

Microsoft announced that it will release a tool later this year to let Mac users sync “select content”, Engadget reports. In other news, we finally have some idea of how the platform will handle external storage, thanks to technology reporter Paul Thurrott.

While I don’t think Microsoft’s announcement means that we’ll see a full Zune client on Macs this year, it’s a clear sign that the company isn’t willing to ignore Mac users this time around. Microsoft has long been criticized for only making its Zune media software available on PCs, which in turn prevented its Zune portable players from finding much of an audience with Mac users.

It’s a wise move because Windows Phone 7’s flashy user interface could appeal to some Mac aficionados, and many users also own both Macs and Windows computers. Hopefully, it will also lead the way to a full-fledged Zune client on the Macs — a program that I vastly prefer to iTunes on Windows.

As for external storage, something that Microsoft has long said won’t be supported on Windows Phone 7, Thurrott explains how some phones on the platform will offer it:

Supported devices (not all Windows Phones will be expandable) will include a micro-SD card slot, which by Microsoft’s requirements must be placed under the battery cover (i.e. next to the actual battery) and not be externally accessible. That’s because this functionality isn’t designed to be something that is swapped out, used with a PC, or whatever. Instead, the micro-SD-based storage will work in tandem with whatever storage is available inside the device.

Microsoft is apparently offering a compromise between easily removable external storage and none at all. On supported phones, you’ll be able to stick in a micro-SD card of your own between 8GB and 32GB, and the OS will combine that storage with the device’s built-in storage. So if you add a 32GB card to a phone with 8GB of storage, the phone will register it as 40GB of total storage.

Thurrott explains that you won’t be able to eject the micro-SD card and read it on your computer due to “technical limitations.” Similarly, you won’t be able to remove the micro-SD card without performing a hard reset on the device, and there’s no way of telling what data is stored on the external card.

Thurrott mentions that Samsung’s Focus supports external memory, which is yet another reason to consider it the most compelling Windows Phone 7 launch device.

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