Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie touched off more than a month of speculation, debate, hand-wringing and questioning when he took the stage at the company’s MIX 08 conference March 5 and talked briefly about Microsoft’s vision of a “mesh” though which all devices can be connected.
In the weeks since, company officials have fed the debate with hints here and there about what the mesh is all about and what will be involved. However, they’ve given very little detail, further fueling the speculation in the blogosphere, with writers guessing what it all means and how it will impact Microsoft’s traditional operating system-based culture.
At the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco April 23, Amit Mital, general manager of Live Mesh for Microsoft, will unveil the first Technology Preview of Microsoft’s Live Mesh, one of several events planned by the company to kick off its latest software-plus-services initiative.
The limited preview will include the introduction of several applications designed to help users, businesses and developers essentially synchronize their multiple devices-from PCs and laptops to cell phones, game consoles and media players-over the Internet via Microsoft’s Live Mesh, Abhay Parasnis, product unit manager for Live Mesh, said in an interview before the conference.
“The number of [Web-enabled] devices is increasing by the day,” Parasnis said.
Individually, each one works well, he said. However, it’s when users try to go across devices-for example, sitting at a laptop trying to access a photo that is on the cell phone-that is when things begin to fall apart, he said.
Mital echoes that sentiment in a memo that he is issuing April 23.
“[A]s we discover, adopt and use more of these digital devices, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the people, information and applications we depend on in sync,” Mitel writes.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve got two work laptops, a home PC, a SmartPhone, a Media Center, and a growing list of new devices. Unfortunately, at least initially, every new device I add makes my life a little harder, not easier.”
The Idea Behind Live Mesh
The idea behind Live Mesh is to create an environment in the cloud where a user’s devices can be quickly synced and work in concert with each other. The company is looking to do this by using a Live Mesh API to give users access to various services, including some Live Services, through the devices in their personal mesh. These Live Services include Storage, Membership, Sync, Peer-to-Peer Communication and Newsfeed.
The APIs would be the same regardless of the connected devices used. Through these services and applications, users will have access to all their data and applications from any of the connected devices.
Data is kept in Live Mesh folders, which are automatically synchronized and can be shared with other Live Mesh users, according to a Live Mesh reviewer’s guide.
Among the applications that will be introduced April 23 are Live Mesh Remote Desktop, which enables users to control any device in their mesh from any PC with a Web browser and an Internet connection, and Live Desktop, which gives users access to the mesh via any Web browser.
In addition, Live Mesh News lets users keep track of other Live Mesh users, changes to folders or files, and the status of any connected device.
The Technology Preview will only work with PCs running Windows Vista or XP with Service Pack 2 installed. Eventually, Parasnis said, Live Mesh will also extend to Macs and devices running Windows Mobile.
Users can access Live Mesh via Internet Explorer 6, Firefox 2.0 and Safari 3.0 or later versions, though Live Mesh Remote Desktop is not compatible with Firefox.