Of course, there is the approved Zune software to use for that, but some traditionalists may prefer to load files into their brand-spanking new Windows Phone 7 smartphone the old way: via drag-n-drop in Windows Explorer. And the good news is that there is apparently a clever way to do so, as long as one does not mind getting his/her hands dirty with the Windows Registry.
Just like how one needs iTunes to properly transfer files between an iOS-powered device and a PC or Mac, the recently-launched wave of Windows Phone 7 smartphones are no different in this aspect. In order to ensure a proper syncing, Microsoft has explicitly stated that only the approved Zune software should be used. This is not much of a problem in itself: after all, the Zune software does its specified job of syncing media files and images well enough to warrant our silence.
But what about those who want to transfer more than just media files? Or users who still prefer the intuitive ‘drag-n-drop’ method of file transfer via Windows Explorer, like the action we have all taken for granted when transferring files from thumbdrives and portable HDDs? Apparently, it seems that there is a very simple way to do so: all it needs is a edit to the Windows Registry and viola, your new Windows Phone 7-powered smartphone will automagically appears in Windows Explorer as a portable mass storage device, as shown in the image below (from Mobiletechworld):
According to Mobiletechworld, the Zune software that is required to sync with Windows Phone 7 handsets actually contains a registry stack which allows for the mounting of such smartphones on Windows as portable mass storage devices. That is nice and all, except for one little problem: Microsoft apparently saw it fit to disable that feature from the program. Ouch.
In order to re-enable the feature, users will have ensure that the Zune software is installed onto the PC first before proceeding further. Once that is done, a quick trip to the registry editor is in order. To be more specific, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetEnumUSB is the directory you should be looking for, after which a search for ‘ZuneDriver’ should bring up the relevant registry strings, as shown below.
Now this is where the fun really starts. To have Windows Explorer recognize the Windows Phone 7 handset and mount it automatically upon connection, the following changes need to be made (quoted ad verbatim from Mobiletechworld):
- Change ShowInShell from 0 to 1 <- this enable Windows Explorer to show the device when pluged in
- Change PortableDeviceNameSpaceExcludeFromShell from 1 to 0
- Change EnableLegacySupport from 0 to 1 <- this enables Windows Explorer to detect the device
Now close the Registry Editor, connect your Windows Phone 7 device to the PC and watch the magic start when Zune launches while your device appears in Windows Explorer.
Needless to say, this little hack brings about a little bonus of its own as opposed to transferring files through the official Zune client. Because you are essentially forcing Windows to recognize the smartphone as a portable mass storage device, it means that just about any kind of file can be dropped into the handset. And yes, this includes productivity files like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or anything of your choosing.
Of course, whether the smartphone will actually ‘read’ those files is another issue altogether, but the convenience of being able to use the new Windows Phone 7 smartphone as a portable mass storage device definitely outweighs the hassles of having to deal with the SD card incompatibility issue currently affecting the mobile OS.