Microsoft is shutting down Live Mesh on Feb. 13, 2013, cutting off access to users of the file-syncing and remote-desktop service. But don't panic, says the software giant. SkyDrive storage cloud is ready to take over.
Live Mesh first appeared in 2008 as Microsoft's effort to simplify data, file and media sharing and syncing across a multitude of devices, including smartphones and PCs. During its unveiling, Live Mesh General Manager Amit Mital said in a keynote address that the "software-plus-services" platform's intent was to seamlessly de-silo information stored on a user's growing collection of Web-connected gadgets.
"With Live Mesh, all your devices work together, your data and apps are always available, your people are a click away, and you're always up to date," said Mital.
Fast forward four years, and SkyDrive has emerged as Microsoft's cloud storage foundation of choice for client systems and mobile devices. SkyDrive apps and connectors are available for Windows, Mac, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Google's Android mobile operating system.
While Live Mesh will soon be gone, it won't be forgotten. Its DNA will live on in the far more popular SkyDrive platform, according to Microsoft officials.
Strength in Numbers
Live Mesh was the victim of SkyDrive's success. In an official Windows Blog post, product marketer David Kornfield wrote, "With the significant investments in bringing the DNA of Mesh together with SkyDrive, there are now over 200 million people that have used SkyDrive, and more and more are making the move every day."
After comparing the user counts of both services, it's easy to see why the company is opting to pour its resources into the one that impacts more users—by a huge margin. "So while Windows Live Mesh was at one point used by a few million people, most have made the move and there are now less than 25,000 active users of Windows Live Mesh."
Besides streamlining its consumer cloud services slate, the move helps the company distance itself from a branding exercise that never quite caught on. Once the lynchpin of Microsoft's Web and cloud services portfolio, today Live has taken a backseat to services like Outlook.com. Currently, the Live.com address points to a Hotmail sign-in page.
Microsoft: Pack up and Move to SkyDrive
Making the switch to SkyDrive is essentially a drag-and-drop affair, said Microsoft.
"To save your files to SkyDrive, install SkyDrive on your computers and mobile devices. Then, just drag files or folders from your Mesh folders into the SkyDrive folder and they’ll automatically start to sync to the cloud (SkyDrive.com) and to other PCs or Macs where you’ve installed a SkyDrive sync app," instructed Kornfield.
Admitting that Live Mesh users are in for a period of adjustment, Microsoft offers a basic chart that details common Live Mesh tasks and their SkyDrive counterparts. But there is one area where SkyDrive falls short.
To replicate the remote desktop access capabilities offered by Live Mesh, the company is urging users to use the Remote Desktop Connection feature found in most non-Home or Starter versions of the Windows desktop operating system since XP. Alternately, users are being encouraged to check out LogMeIn Pro.