Posted by Brian McCullough
I’m usually hard on Microsoft on this blog. But nerdy tech circles today are abuzz at the announcement of Live Mesh from Microsoft. Think of Live Mesh as one ring to sync them all, every device and every file… provided you use Windows.
Apparently, this whole system is not quite ready for immediate use, but if things pan out like promised, this would obviously be a hugely helpful thing for the modern office worker. It might actually go a long way to make the Windows environment more useful.
A lot of the discussion around this announcement is confusing, so I’m going to crib from an easy-to-understand rundown from the techblog Mashable.
What – Live Mesh is a service that lets you synchronize your settings, files, feeds and applications on several computers.
What’s the big deal – there are already ways to synchronize stuff on the net. Foxmarks is a good example: you install it in Firefox on several computers, and your bookmarks sync seamlessly. Live Mesh, however, is a single platform that will make it easier for 3rd party app developers to do this. If Microsoft does this right, you’ll get used to using the Live Mesh for syncing all your devices, files as well as most or all of your applications.
Is this like a WebOS (Webdesktop, Webtop?) – yes, although everyone seems to be avoiding the term, this is a lot like all those WebOS apps you’ve seen. You get a virtual desktop with 5GB of storage and you can access it from anywhere. It’s integrated with Windows’ Remote Desktop, so it’s really simple to set up.
How will it look and feel in practice (we’re talking about the future here) – Let’s say that you and three other coworkers have a shared Mesh desktop. You fire it up, check out the log to see who changed what. Great, Mike added the graphics you needed. You add some notes to the graphics and drop them into the Mesh, but you share it only with your devices; they’re not ready to be seen by everyone just yet. On the way to work, you want to start some downloads on your computer at work, so you remotely connect to it through your iPhone. The rest of the trip you read your feeds; the ones you read at home are marked read so you can just keep reading where you left of.
To put it really simple: the promise of the Mesh is that you won’t have to care where you are or which device you’re using – your data will always be there. You’ll only have to care about which data you want to share with whom.
Which devices – Right now, we’re talking only about Windows XP and Vista computers; in the future, it will work with Mac, mobiles, etc.