Microsoft released a tech preview of Live Mesh for developers today. Live Mesh is a software-plus-service platform that enables your PC and your other devices to “come alive” by making them aware of each other through the Internet. I was invited to the beta and so far I have been using the storage features and synchronization services. (Think of a Live Mesh aware TV set top device and season 4 of Lost downloaded on my PC.)
I can see road warriors like myself using Live Mesh quite often, all you have to do is upload a Word document to your virtual desktop and then it will be automatically be kept in sync on every machine and device I have. As long as it runs Microsoft operating systems, a limitation I can live with. (But support for Mac is coming soon I hear.)
While the marketing engine of Microsoft seems pointed to the consumers with their XBoxes and PCs, I think this software+services approach represents a change in direction for Microsoft. Using the software (Office 2007 + Vista) and the services (Live Mesh's synchronization and discovery services) developers can build some really cool business applications.
Not only can you sync documents and files, but you can also sync applications (via a two-way RSS or Atom feed). Once again Microsoft is showing its strength with the developer community. For example, a Web developer can build an app using any programming language and then sync that application across multiple devices and even other applications.
Contrast this to what Google is doing. Google is trying to bring all of your applications from the desktop to the cloud. Microsoft is trying to get you to keep your desktop applications for their rich features and leverage the cloud for storage, synchronization, and collaboration. Microsoft is not pretending that we have uber powerful and cheap PCs and is using the cloud for infrastructure.
Will Live Mesh make Microsoft a player? Ray Ozzie thinks so. He has said that Microsoft now has to build software+services with a connection between devices (and their data) and people.
Its' a great time to be a developer.
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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in anyway.