Microsoft Opens Live Mesh to All

Microsoft, which opened its Live Mesh service in a limited tech preview at the Web 2.0 Expo in April, has opened the service to all comers today, confirmed LiveSide. Microsoft’s data sync platform is now available to anyone with a Windows Live ID who resides in the United States. International users can join if they change their Windows operating system language and region to EN-US.

The following was posted on the Live Mesh forum:

Live Mesh is now openly available to anyone in the U.S.

The Live Mesh team is pleased to announce that anyone in the U.S. can now use Live Mesh just by signing in to www.mesh.com with a valid Windows Live ID. No sign up needed to participate!

International Customers

With Live Mesh open to anyone in the US, our international friends can join in the fun early as well – with one caveat: you must be willing to change your Windows operating system region and language setting to EN-US. Once you do this you will be able to immediately sign in to Live Mesh with a valid Windows Live ID. Please be aware that this may cause other applications that specifically require your native country region and language settings to encounter problems.

Feedback

Once you’ve begun using Live Mesh, we’d love to hear from you! We are working hard to create the best experience and appreciate any feedback you have. Please send us feedback using our online form. You can also submit (and view others’) feedback and bugs here on the Microsoft Connect website.

Thank you,
The Live Mesh team

Though Live Mesh is now open to anyone, the service is still very much a beta/tech preview product. It syncs data only between your PC and the cloud — Mac and mobile phone support is still “coming soon.”

What is Live Mesh?

Live Mesh is an automatic data sync platform that synchronizes user data between devices — eventually that will mean basically anything with ones and zeros: mobile, PC, Mac, video game player, etc. — and the cloud. Mesh works as a collection of feeds that can be expressed as ATOM, JSON, FeedSync, RSS, WB-XML, or POX. Any piece of data that a user creates is rendered as information in the feed and then spread to other devices based on rules for how that type of data is to be shared (i.e., privacy settings).

Mesh follows Microsoft’s “software plus services” strategy and includes both a web platform component, and client software. For now, Mesh exists as a tech preview that automatically syncs files and folders on a Windows PC with web storage space in the cloud. The eventual goal is for Mesh to play with any number of devices so that a photo taken on your Blackberry at work could be automatically backed up to your desktop PC, Macbook Pro, iPhone at home, and the cloud.

The Platform

What sets Mesh apart from other data synchronization plays, such as DropBox or SugarSync, is that Microsoft looks at Mesh as developer platform as well as a user facing service. Microsoft’s hope is that Mesh will become the de facto platform for data synchronization for devices and web apps.

Microsoft showed me a proof-of-concept demo in April in which a just-snapped cell phone photo was almost instantly synced to albums on Flickr and Facebook, a pair of laptops, a UMPC, and the cloud storage space (the whole process took under 5 minutes). The possibilities that arise when you think of Live Mesh as a platform for syncronization rather than just yet another data backup service are exciting. Microsoft is also hoping to sync all data associated with a Mesh account — not just files. So that means, for example, comments on your photo on Facebook might be copied to Flickr or back to your cell phone if you set up the file permissions that way, or it could sync Twitter tweets to other devices or web apps.

One of the most interesting things about Mesh is that the client software will allow web apps using the platform to create offline versions of their applications (existing as desktop wrappers for the web apps themselves). That means that on some level Mesh might be aiming to take on Google’s Gears and Mozilla’s Prism (and to a lesser extent, Adobe’s AIR). As often as we hear that the web is the new operating system, the desktop is still very important.

Still Just a Preview

For all the potential that Live Mesh has, Microsoft’s platform is still just a tech preview. With support for only PC to web storage syncing right now, it is hard to judge what impact Mesh might have on the way we interact with, store, and synchronize our data. Some of the proof-of-concept stuff that Microsoft has demoed is exciting, as is the idea of a complete synchronization platform for web apps, computers, and web-enabled devices, but for now, almost all of that stuff doesn’t yet exist outside of internal Microsoft demos.

Hopefully the platform will live up to the hype and potential. In the meantime, anyone with a Windows PC and a Windows Live ID can check out the early iterations of Mesh for themselves at www.mesh.com. Try it out and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Edit: Look like Mesh isn’t completely open to the public, just more open than it was before. The tech preview is still capped at a finite number of users, that cap has just been doubled. So sign up while you can. Via LiveSide.

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  • Anonymous

    I think its good that people are moving to cloud computing, but is it possible for Microsoft to come up with an original idea? The reason this will never do well is because they have no innovation, and when they deicde to do something it only works half of the time. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely would not trust Microsoft to properly sync up my data between devices.

    Apple and other companies will continue to lead the way while Microsoft lags behind trying to keep up.

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    User trust is one issue — though I suspect that most mainstream users would trust Microsoft as much as any other big corporation — but Apple’s foray into data synchronization with MobileMe hasn’t gone so well in the first few days…

    To your other point, I actually think Microsoft’s platform approach to data sync is rather original. As far as I know, Mesh is a rather unique product among the growing sea of data sync services (or will be assuming they make good on their plans).

  • http://www.searchgov.org.uk searchgov

    they are always late!

  • Anonymous

    I’d trust them to sync my stuff correctly. ActiveSync is still king for getting data between say Outlook and your handheld gizmo.

  • zuneone

    I’ve been using the Mesh service for the past several months with very positive experience. The remote desktop function is great! From my work PC which I have added to my Mesh i can turn on my webcam on the home PC and see what my cat is up to. The file sync works good too but is not as interesting as the remote.

    Go Microsoft!

  • Anonymous

    our international friends can join in the fun early as well – with one caveat: you must be willing to change your Windows operating system region and language setting to EN-US.

    So I have to change my desktop settings to something that breaks all my spellchecking and currency setups, to use this service?

    Did someone in the project team not understand the task of “internationalisation” and assume it was a tiny task that could be tacked onto the end of their gantt chart or something? Or did they just forget that there is a world outside the US *again*?

  • nathj07

    I’ve recently started using ActiveSync and it’s great. I must admit I would trust MS as much as I would trust MS with this kind of service.

    Also, I think that in recent months and years MS have been coming out with some pretty impressive stuff that seems to take ideas and enhance them – worldwide telescope for instance.

    As for a more general comment on cloud computing it makes loads of sense. I’m all for it and I will certainly be trying it out when it is more generally available.

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    i can turn on my webcam on the home PC and see what my cat is up to

    Have you noticed any increase in paranoid behaviour by your cat lately? ;)

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Anonymous: It’s a tech preview that doesn’t officially support any country outside of the US. That is just a way that any curious party in another country can check it out. I think it would be erroneous to read into this as Microsoft forgetting about non-US users.

    They’re a US company — of course they’re going to start in the US with their early beta testing.