Years after Apple released iSync, Microsoft has finally announced a competing product.
Apple’s Mac OS X operating system comes bundled with iSync, a tool that allows developers to easily add sync support for a broad range of cell phones. Any phone that supports SyncML can be adapted to work with iSync, for calendar and contact synchronization. Apple includes support for hundreds of cell phones out-of-the-box.
The Microsoft Phone Data Manager application, appears aimed to to exactly the same task. The tool initially supports a few dozen phones. Unlike iSync however, Microsoft has configured their tool to attempt to work with any SyncML phone, doing away with the need for a new (or modified) plug-in each time a new phone model is released.
Phone Data Manager also appears to have a key advantage over iSync; the tool offers to backup user content, including photos and wallpaper, stored on the device during a sync.
The tool will work with Windows Mobile phones as well, however Microsoft cautions that in the current beta phase, it will only work with Windows Mobile devices while connected via USB.
One key limitation that also appears with the beta, is that it only supports contact synchronization with Windows Live Contacts. Unlike ActiveSync (Windows Mobile Device Center), the tool does not support synchronization with any of Microsoft’s four desktop email clients. Because of this, the tool also does not support calendar synchronization at this time.