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Windows Phone Composite USB Device Issue

As a Windows Phone developer, few things are more frustrating than when I lose time to "technical difficulties" that are completely unrelated to code I've written. When I recently tried to connect my Windows Phone to a new computer, the correct device driver failed to install properly. Windows 7 in its infinite wisdom substituted a generic device driver. From then on, my Samsung Focus was labelled as a "Composite USB Device" and was completely unrecognizable to the Zune software and therefore inaccessible to Visual Studio for deployment and debugging.

I really wish that I had taken screenshots to help others recognize if their issue matches what I am describing here. I can no longer take screenshots because I figured out how to resolve the problem, or rather, I nudged Windows into fixing the problem itself. I could uninstall the correct driver and try to duplicate the issue, but I have some software writing to catch up on. Just writing this up means that I'm losing precious minutes on my projects.

Disclaimer: This worked for me with my phone and my PC. The same steps may or may not work for you. I offer no guarantee. I am only sharing my story in case you are the lucky one that can be helped by it.

The solution is (relatively) simple:
  1. Connected Windows Phone to PC via a working USB cable (the one that came with my phone).
  2. Started Zune software (Mine is version 4.8).
  3. Opened Devices and Printers from the Control Panel.
  4. Found "Composite USB Device" listed in the third row (not a device and not a printer).
  5. Right-Clicked "Composite USB Device" and chose "Troubleshoot".
  6. The troubleshooter presented two options. I selected the first option to "Install Driver" for an unknown device.
  7. My PC identified my device/phone, then downloaded and installed the correct device driver.
  8. The Zune software immediately displayed a message telling me to unlock my phone.
  9. My phone is now listed under Devices and Printers by name and is visible in Zune as a guest for syncing media. Now I can setup a new relationship and start syncing my collection.
If I could assume some knowledge on the part of the reader, the solution could be expressed as succinctly as:

Troubleshoot the "Composite USB Device" in Devices and Printers to enable Zune to see your Windows Phone.

Sometimes, it can be amazing just how frustrating technology can be (and I'm a huge fan of technology). Thankfully, technology can also be amazing in how it can help alleviate our frustrations with minimal effort on our part. Seriously, Windows did all the heavy lifting. The driver may not have installed correctly the first time, but the troubleshooter really saved the day, thanks to an unsung hero at Microsoft.

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