When you plug a Windows Phone 8 device into a Windows 8 or Windows RT device (like the Surface), the operating system will automatically download the Windows Phone app from the Windows Store and ask you to choose what happens when you connect the device. Selecting the Windows Phone app will automatically launch it whenever you connect your device in the future. It’s simple and it works seamlessly. The problem, however, comes when you want to change the startup settings.

With the Zune software client, which is used to sync Windows Phone 7.x devices, it’s easy to change the auto-run option in the settings by simply toggling the “Start the Zune software when I connect a compatible device” checkbox. Frustratingly, this is not the case with the new app on the Windows Store. Looking in the app’s settings, you won’t find a single reference to automatic startup when a device is connected. This is because the Windows Phone app actually takes advantage of AutoPlay, a feature that you might not have much experience with but has existed in Windows for many years. As a result, it can be a somewhat difficult to turn off the Windows Phone app’s auto-run setting or configure it to use a different app on your computer.

To change the setting, open up the Control Panel and either search for AutoPlay or look under Hardware and Sound. Scroll down to the Devices section at the bottom and change the Windows Phone setting to whatever you’d prefer. In my case, “Ask me every time,” which will always display the toast notification. Hit save, and you’re done.

This is a simple process, but it’s not as immediately apparent as an option in the app settings. The advantage, however, is that AutoPlay actually manages the global settings for the entire machine – rather than on an app-by-app basis – and it is automatically synced to all of your other Windows 8 and Windows RT devices unless you specify otherwise.