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Working with Mobile Devices (part 1) - Using Windows Mobility Center

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3/29/2011 3:21:48 PM
Working with Mobile Devices

There are many different types of mobile devices available today. They range from relatively simple single-function devices such as music players to fully capable PDAs that enable users to run complex applications. In the past, managing these types of devices has been complicated. Hardware vendors were often required to create their own tools and utilities to enable synchronizing between different applications. Users often needed to install and configure multiple applications, each of which had different user interfaces. In this section, you’ll learn about features in Windows Vista that are designed to simplify the process of working with mobile devices.

More Info: Evaluating mobile devices

When recommending mobile devices to your customers, you are likely to consider the primary features of the device. For example, more memory, a faster processor, and better built-in functions are all useful benefits. However, you should also keep in mind the convenience and quality of the included software. Users who plan to synchronize their information with their computers running Windows Vista should look for the logos that indicate Windows Vista compatibility. Better yet, devices that are based on the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system have been designed to provide a consistent experience with the Windows platform.

Installing Mobile Devices

The first step in allowing a mobile device to work with Windows Vista involves connecting it to a computer. The connection allows the computer to send and receive data to and from the device. There are several common methods by which mobile devices can connect to computers running Windows Vista, as follows:

  • USB These wired connections are available on most computers and can be a convenient way to plug devices into a computer. Some mobile devices have built-in USB connectors. Others require connection through a cradle or other device.

  • Infrared These connections work over small distances, using the same method used by a traditional television remote control. Infrared connections are relatively slow but do enable wireless transfer of information with a compatible computer.

  • Bluetooth The Bluetooth wireless standard provides connectivity with nearby computers and other devices. To connect to a Bluetooth-compatible mobile device, a computer must have a Bluetooth receiver. Some notebook computers come with this functionality included. For other computers, external Bluetooth receivers (which usually connect to a USB port) are required. To associate a Bluetooth device with the computer, you must configure the passkey for the device. This process enables users to determine which devices should be able to communicate when multiple Bluetooth-enabled receivers are present.

  • Serial cables Serial connections are an old but reliable standard. They are typically much slower than other connection methods and are most often found on legacy devices.

  • Wireless network connections Some mobile devices provide compatibility with the 802.11 wireless network standard. These devices can be configured to connect to a wireless network and communicate with other computers.

Because mobile devices vary greatly in their connection methods, you need to refer to the documentation for the device to determine the specific connection steps. Some mobile devices require users to enable features such as wireless connections or Bluetooth.

Installing Windows Mobile Device Center

Windows Mobile is the Microsoft operating system standard for mobile devices. Several versions of the platform are available. When you connect a Windows Mobile–based device to a computer running Windows Vista, users are prompted to download and install Windows Mobile Device Center (see Figure 1). This program is the primary method by which users can access various functions of their mobile devices from their computers.

Figure 1. Using Windows Mobile Device Center

In addition to connecting to a mobile device, Windows Mobile Device Center includes drivers that enable other features. For example, you can use Windows Sync Center (covered later in this lesson) to coordinate data modifications between devices. The specific available capabilities vary based on the specific type of device that is being connected.

More Info: Working with Windows Mobile Device Center

The mobile device industry changes much more rapidly than even the desktop and notebook markets. For up-to-date information on mobility features and compatible devices for Windows Vista, see the Windows Mobile Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/.

Using Windows Mobility Center

Portable devices such as notebook computers provide many useful features for customers who travel often or who work at multiple locations. In the past, the major challenge related to working with these computers was learning the various hardware-related features and utilities that enabled access to all of the functionality. Usually, each manufacturer of portable computers would include its own utilities for managing screen settings, battery usage, wireless network settings, and other details. End users often had to install and learn these different components for each computer they used.


Although the names are very similar, be careful not to confuse Windows Mobility Center with the Windows Mobile Device Center. Windows Mobility Center is designed to provide functionality for notebook computers and other similar devices that run the full Windows Vista operating system. The Windows Mobile Device Center is used to communicate with devices that run the Windows Mobile operating system.

Windows Vista includes numerous mobility-related features as part of the base operating system. This provides consistency and the ability to access the most common functions easily when using a notebook computer. In addition, it provides a way for notebook manufacturers to include their own branding and additional utilities that might be unique to those systems. Figure 2 shows an example of the Windows Mobility Center interface. Note that the top section includes built-in components that are standard to the application, whereas the bottom portion includes manufacturer-specific utilities and features.

Figure 2. Using Windows Mobility Center on a Dell notebook computer

Windows Mobility Center has been designed to be accessible quickly on notebook computers. The easiest way to access it is by right-clicking the battery meter icon and selecting Windows Mobility Center. You can also open the application by searching for it in the Start menu.

More Info: Shortcut keys

Many computer manufacturers provide an even easier method of accessing commonly used notebook computer features. Settings such as speaker volume and screen brightness can often be accessed using dedicated keys or by using a keyboard combination. For more information, consult the computer’s documentation.

The default sections of Windows Mobility Center include the following:

  • Display Brightness This option provides a slider bar to change the brightness of the display quickly. Users often modify this setting based on the external lighting, available battery charge, and personal preferences. You can change the default options for brightness by clicking the icon (see Figure 3).

    Figure 3. Adjust Display Brightness settings
  • Volume These settings enable you to mute the computer’s speakers and to change the master volume. Clicking the icon launches the Sound Control Panel page.

  • Battery Status This section shows the current amount of available battery charge. It also enables changing quickly between the various power profiles that are listed in the dropdown list. Clicking the icon loads the Power Options Control Panel page.

  • Wireless Network This section displays the status of the current wireless network connection (connected or disconnected). Clicking the Network Center button launches the Network and Sharing Center, which can be used to connect to wireless networks.

  • External Display If an external display device is connected to the computer, this icon enables you to configure the screen resolution options. Notebook users who commonly connect to external monitors or to projector devices can use this option to find associated configuration settings.

  • Sync Center This button shows the status of any synchronization partnerships that have been defined on the computer (if applicable). More information about using Windows Sync Center is covered later in this lesson.

  • Presentation Settings When giving a presentation, users often want to make temporary changes to their computer settings. For example, they might want to choose an alternate desktop background, change the speaker volume, disable the screen saver, and suppress various notifications such as new e-mails. Figure 4 shows the options that are available by clicking the Presentation Settings icon in the system tray when presentation settings are enabled.

Figure 4. Adjusting presentation settings on a mobile computer

Providing these commonly accessed settings in one place means users do not need to search through the Control Panel to find mobile device settings.

Other -----------------
- Installing and Managing Media Devices (part 4) - Installing and Managing Printers
- Installing and Managing Media Devices (part 3) - Using Windows Fax and Scan
- Installing and Managing Media Devices (part 2) - Working with Scanners and Digital Cameras
- Installing and Managing Media Devices (part 1) - Managing Hardware Devices
- Removing Malware from Windows Vista (part 3) - Troubleshooting Internet Explorer
- Removing Malware from Windows Vista (part 2) - Removing Malware by Using Windows Defender
- Removing Malware from Windows Vista (part 1) - Understanding Common Malware Issues
- Diagnosing Issues in Windows Vista (part 6) - Using Other Diagnostic and Troubleshooting Tools
- Diagnosing Issues in Windows Vista (part 5) - Repairing Windows Vista
- Diagnosing Issues in Windows Vista (part 4) - Troubleshooting Startup Problems
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