Microsoft My Phone takes on Apple

The other service launching at MWC, My Phone, is part of Microsoft's synchronisation story, something that's at the heart of Ray Ozzie's plans for the company and Steve Ballmer's frequent references to the phone as another Windows screen (along with the TV).

There's a lot to be said for a cloud service that takes everything from your phone and makes it available to you through the Web – so you can access content stored on your phone even if its battery is completely flat or you left it at home.

Way back, almost nine years ago, at the launch of its .NET strategy, Microsoft ran a series of promotional videos, showing how it expected services to evolve. One of these was the story of a man who'd left his phone at home when heading off on a business trip. With just his ID he was able to load a rental phone with all his information and carry on as usual.

That's what My Phone is intended to be, a backup that you can access anywhere, anytime – even on a brand new phone.

With My Phone you sign in with a Live ID, and set up a schedule. An agent running on the phone handles the actual synchronisation at the times and schedule you choose (and you can have it pause when you roam, so you don't run up a huge bill). As an initial sync can take some time, you're probably best doing it over Wi-Fi.

You can define just what gets backed up, including the content of your storage card, although that will quickly exceed the (rather mean) 200MB storage limit. With 8GB microSD cards costing under a tenner, that's not a lot of storage, especially when you compare it with Microsoft's other online services like Live Mesh and Skydrive which offer 5GB.

Any time you get a new phone you can log on to the cloud service through the device browser, install the agent, and your data will transfer across. If you have a phone for work and one for personal use, you can keep several phones in sync with My Phone. There's no desktop PC client, so if you want to save My Phone data on your PC you'll need to go through the browser.


Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.