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Jul 16, 2008

Breaking: Live Mesh Now Open to All of U.S.

Breaking: Live Mesh Now Open to All of U.S.

Windows Live Mesh is Microsoft's software+services data synchronization platform. Because of its complex nature, most people assume that file synchronization is all there is to Live Mesh, but in reality, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft has big plans for the service and syncing files between computers and the cloud is just the start. When Live Mesh launched, it was currently a closed "technical preview" (that's Microsoft for "beta"). But now it appears that the Live Mesh guys have quietly opened up the platform for all of the U.S...

About Live Mesh

For those of you unfamiliar with the service, the main thing you need to know is that, at the moment, the service is Windows-Only. However, Microsoft has confirmed in the past that a Mac client is in the works. Eventually, it will also work with mobile devices, too. Certainly Windows Mobile, but also any other devices that would permit it. Mesh isn't built with proprietary code, but with open protocols most web developers are familiar with, including HTTP, RSS, REST, ATOM and JSON. Although Mesh's FeedSync is new, it is an XML protocol based on ATOM and RSS.

With Mesh running on your computers, you can simply right-click any folder and choose "Add to Mesh." By doing so, that folder and all the files it contains are synchronized with all of your other computers you've added to your personal Mesh. It also syncs those files to the Live Mesh Desktop, which is Mesh's "cloud" - an online web site you can access from any computer. At the moment, the online storage is limited to 5 GB, but that could change in the future. However, Mesh's recent update allows you to set folders to sync via peer-to-peer, bypassing Live Desktop...

When folders are Mesh-enabled, a small panel appears to the right of the folder in explorer which catalogs any changes to the folder (file adds/moves/deletions) as well as notes and comments left by any of the folder's members.

Some people have compared Mesh to Apple's Mobile Me (I discussed this on my personal site not too long ago), but that is a little bit off the mark. Where Mobile Me is a consumer-focused product that offers sync and cloud storage, too - the difference is that Mesh is actually a platform. A service like Mobile Me could be built on Mesh, for example, so what you're seeing today with the file sync is sort of like a demo app of what the Mesh platform can do. However, that being said, we hope to see Mesh doing more that file sync in the future...

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