Microsoft today issued an update to the desktop sync app for Windows Phone 8, adding expanded support for podcast syncing, integrated application updating, more flexible library sync selection, and a number of bug fixes. This update should be of particular interest to those who wish to sync podcasts from the PC to the phone but don’t want to use iTunes.

The new version of the Windows Phone app(lication) for desktop is available for download from the Windows Phone web site.

According to Microsoft, changes in this version of the application include:

Expanded podcast support. Many people complained that the only way to sync podcasts from the PC to the phone was to use iTunes. I wrote about this capability in Windows Phone 8 Tip: Enjoy Podcasts on the Go. Now, you can sync podcasts from virtually any source, as long as that source stores the podcasts in a folder on your PC: Just choose that folder and sync them to the phone.

Simplified updates. Previous versions of the application required you to install updates from windowsphone.com, like you will need to do to get this version. But going forward, the app will now alert you when an update is available, so you can install it directly from the application.

Flexible library selection. The application can now sync files from any library or folder on your computer, even if they’re on an external hard drive.

Many bug fixes. Microsoft has made various fixes to improve the performance of the application.