A quick note about Windows Phone account types

I’ve not written this part of the book yet, but what the heck, it’s good research.

Windows Phone supports multiple accounts of different types. But it treats each account type a bit differently.

Windows Live

As explained previously, everyone who uses Windows Phone will want/need a Windows Live ID. This is key to having a great experience, but it’s also required for certain phone features. So it’s sort of a no-brainer. But it acts differently than other accounts.

When you configure your primary Windows Live account on the phone initially, it connects to your contacts list, photos, and feeds. These cannot be individually configured. You can, however, later enable email sync if you’d like, from within Settings. And if you navigate to the Calendar app, you’ll see that Windows Live calendar sync is enabled automatically. But you can turn it off from there.

Note that, for the preview release only, syncing email, contacts, and calendars for multiple Windows Live IDs is not supported. This will be supported in the final release.


You use the Outlook account type to connect to Exchange-type accounts. (Why isn’t it just called Exchange then?) This includes Exchange Server, Outlook Web Access, and so on, but also any email account that uses Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) on the back-end. So you can configure Gmail this way, or the new Hotmail or MobileMe (presumably, I have tried either yet). Outlook accounts can be configured to enable/disable email, contacts, and calendar sync individually.

Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail can be configured for email access only. The connection is automatic, but if you check the settings, it’s going through IMAP.


You can actually connect to Google/Gmail two different ways: Automatically, by choosing Google as the account type, or manually, by choosing Outlook (and then advanced) or Advanced Setup. Either way, you can configure which Google services to sync, and email, contacts, and calendar sync can all be enabled/disabled individually.


Right now, Facebook is the only social networking (i.e. non-email-type) account you can connect to via the Windows Phone accounts interface. It’s either on or off; if you connect to Facebook, it will sync contacts, photos, and feeds. There’s no way to configure this is any way (like, turn off contacts but leave the others on).

Other Account/Advanced Setup

Windows Phone also lets you manually configure any other email account types easily enough, assuming you know all the server addresses and other configuration mumbo-jumbo. Aside from manually configuring Google/Gmail as an Exchange-type account, I haven’t really played with this too much, but I’d imagine that non-Exchange-type accounts will be configured for email only.

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31 Responses to A quick note about Windows Phone account types

  1. roberthleeii says:

    Will Gmail support archiving?

    My main live ID is actually tied to my gmail account. How will this work?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      So, there’s no Archive button, obviously. But it works just like it does on the iPhone: You Move the current message to [Gmail] All Mail.

    • Mike Cerm says:

      So, it’s basically just using the normal IMAP-style folders for Gmail, but EAS is actually doing the syncing (enabling contact and calendar sync).

      I’m guessing that, even though your Live ID is tied to your Gmail, you’ll likely have to add it as a separate account. Just because you use that to log into Microsoft services doesn’t mean that they can pull all of your Google content (it just means you get to access LIve without having a Hotmail account).

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        My main Windows Live ID is a live.com account. But if you used a Gmail account for a Windows Live ID (which you can of course do), then yes, I think you would need to pull in contacts/email/calendar separately through a different account. The main, Windows Live ID, account would have the feeds, Xbox Live, Zune Social, and other connectivity stuff.

  2. mdtauk says:

    Thank you for this, I know you must be working like a madman with the book, and blogs, and playing with your phone (lucky so and so).

    I just wondered if you can view the facebook feeds of your friends, if you are not on facebook yourself, or your facebook account is not active on the phone? (obviously if the feeds are set to public/everyone)

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      No, you’d have to have a Facebook account. There are two ways to “see” these things; via integration with the Windows Live “what’s new” feed (now called Messenger Social) or via signing into your Facebook account directly.

  3. wrbunce says:

    A couple things I’m only relatively concerned about. Do you know if the Facebook sync will eventually be fine-tunable? Which groups of friends to sync, contacts, etc.

    Also, in the Engadget preview, they mention there is no unified inbox, has this hampered your experience at all?

    As for Twitter, there are going to be so many Twitter apps at launch, that isn’t a concern. Besides, wouldn’t those updates overwhelm your what’s new screen?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I don’t know re: tuning Facebook. I wish it was. I will ask.

      It’s true that there is no unified inbox. In working up the account info yesterday, I did see what it was like to have numerous email accounts on there simultaneously. (I configured 6.) So, two thoughts here. I do think having a unified inbox would be “better,” and something they should do. But who has 3+ email accounts that aren’t already integrated? I’m using Gmail right now to grab all my mail from multiple accounts, for example, and had previously configured Hotmail for this too. It’s easy. Here’s a guess; There is a big divide in Windows Phone between work and play, and I think it’s by design. I think they were trying to separate Exchange and personal accounts.

      I don’t care about Twitter being on there personally, but you can just add this to the long list of cheap things that people will complain about. Look, there are x number of things missing; it’s a disaster. It’s just easy.

      • dannyriley says:

        Hi Paul,

        In one of your comments in your previous blog entry, you said that the phone respected favorites that were set up in your Windows Live account. Does that mean that they show up in a separate category on your phone. If so, then in Live Messenger, if you have your Facebook account linked to it, you can add your Facebook friends as Favorites also.

        So I guess the question is this – if you link your facebook account to your windows live account, and then only link your windows live account to your phone, will it respect the favorites on Windows Live contacts that actually come from Facebook? Whew, that’s kindof a mouthful but hopefully you see where I’m going.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        LOL. I will need to examine this. :)

  4. brentgv says:

    Excellent information, Paul. I dig that you have a dedicated blog just for Windows Phone that way you can really get into the weeds. Great stuff.

  5. necromannn says:

    Hi there Paul! I really like to read you comments on Windows Phone 7 and i also think is will be great!

    I have a question to ask you, since you are using a developer unit.

    Do you know how Messenger / Skype or VoIP will be integrated? Although i don’t really care about facebook and twitter for now, messenger is a must for me.

    Also having skype (or some app that allows connecting to your skype account) and voip (SIP) would be great!

    I really am hopping a really messenger hub would be great integrated on Windows Phone 7, much like the new messenger beta that have a little of Windows Phone 7 feeling :)

    Regards and keep up the good work! This is MY favorite site about Windows Phone 7 news.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      No Messenger, but you have to think that Messenger and Skype apps are both on the way. I will ask the Windows Live folks what their plans are for Windows Phone.


      • rjohn05 says:

        Are you serious? There really will be no Messenger on the phone?

        I think it would be a major shocker if they added Messenger as well as the ability to voice chat with friends on Messenger for iPhone as well as on XBOX 360/Kinect.
        This way, there will be people we can actually use the feature with when the device launches.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        No, no.

        There will be no Messenger client built into the stock Windows Phone 7 image that is the OS itself. It is possible and likely that Microsoft is working on such a client, and that that client will be out in time for launch, and that most/all Windows Phone makers will include it on their devices. It’s just not part of the OS.

        That said, there will be chat connectivity in the Xbox Live games stuff. But that’s separate from a dedicated Windows Live Messenger app client.

  6. Mike Cerm says:

    I honestly couldn’t care less about Twitter, but has Microsoft said anything about Twitter integration? I don’t really see why anyone would want Twitter to integrate with their real contacts (or why anyone uses Twitter at all), but it’s a sticking point for some people. Is that another “we have nothing to announce at this time” feature, or something they’re just not working on for the first release?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      There’s something going on right now between Twitter and MS. My understanding is that a Twitter API changed, and while there used to be a way to connect a Twitter feed to your Messenger Social/What’s New feed on Windows Live, that’s gone (temporarily) now. It’s not related to Windows Phone directly.

  7. pastorwelker says:

    My Zune and XBox accounts are associated to a different Windows Live ID than my main Windows Live e-mail account. Will this be a problem or should I consolodate the accounts?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      This will be a problem. (This was my case as well.)

      You can only have one “main” Windows Live ID on the phone that will be used for Zune and Xbox Live (and other feed stuff). It’s OK to configure multiple Windows Live IDs on the device (or will be), and if you have email/contacts/calendars in different accounts, no worries. But you can’t, say, have one account for your Xbox Live stuff and another one for the Apps Marketplace stuff.

      • gpsarakis says:

        So just to get this right Paul, since I have a main (old Live ID from when it was still called Passport) a work Live ID (which actually has the hotmail account) and then my Xbox Live ID (which uhh, actually uses my gmail address) If I just link all 3 together to the original “main” one, then everything will be Ok?

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        No. You will be able to use each account with the phone in some way. But you can only have one Windows Live ID that is the source for all your connected “stuff”. This includes Xbox Live (for the avatar/gamertag stuff in Games), the Messenger Social (What’s New) feeds in People and Pictures, Zune Social, the different marketplaces (Zune, Xbox, and Apps) and so on. Your other (secondary) Windows Live accounts can all be used for any combination of email, contacts, and calendars (as can that main account). What you cannot do is use one Windows Live account for Xbox Live, a different one for the feeds, and a different one for the marketplace(s). (Or whatever.) There can only be one “main” account.

  8. gonehiking says:

    Semi off topic here, but the Windows Live Calendar sync thing is new from my understanding. Is it going to start working with other smartphones, such as Windows Mobile 6.1? Would love to start using it before WP7 comes out (which I will promptly upgrade to when it gets to Sprint).

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Yes, that’s part of Windows Live wave 4/the new Hotmail. I’m using it now on the iPhone as well, for example. This will be public well before Windows Phone ships.

  9. extravadave says:

    Hi Paul,
    I have one question which is more generic but that should make more sense with Windows Phones than in non-phone related environment.

    I understand that you can connect to Windows Live to gather your Windows Live contact, you can connect to the enterprise Exchange servers to gather your Exchange contacts and you can connect to Facebook to gather your Facebook contacts.

    Many times, we have contacts information here and there for the same contacts.

    In the case of Windows Phone, you will have duplicate contacts, once with info coming from Exchange, one from Windows live and one from Facebook.

    How do you suggest we should do to merge these and have only one source of information that could then be synced between the several services ?

    Thank for your best practices and advices !


    • Paul Thurrott says:

      You can actually merge duplicates on-phone, though that doesn’t replace/change any info at the original sources. I have too many contacts to really do that too much, but I’d imagine it will be semi-useful for others. There’s no way to only have one source for multiple contacts unless you delete them at the source.

  10. gpsarakis says:

    Paul, is there an RSS reader option/app in there? I.E. so I can add the RSS feeds I have in my fav bar in IE8 from different websites to WP7 as well?

    I noticed that the only RSS type option in Windows Live is for blogs, which none of mine are.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      No, if you try to load an RSS feed into IE, it just displays as XML code.

      And the problem with RSS integration in the Windows Live feed stuff is that you can only connect one RSS feed to your account, which is a crazy limitation.

      • gpsarakis says:

        That’s a bummer, I guess I’ll end up looking for a RSS reader app in the marketplace then, not really a problem but it would’ve been nice to be built in with all the other “feeds”.

      • Paul Thurrott says:


        I noted somewhere that I’m considering making a “What’s Missing in Windows Phone 7” list, perhaps weighted by necessity. This would need to be on there.

  11. Pingback: Windows Phone 7 and Windows Live Calendar: What you can and can’t do - LiveSide.net

  12. gabr10 says:

    Question: What if I don’t want all my windows live contacts to show up on my windows phone? What do I need to do? This will drive me crazy.


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