Microsoft Live Mesh

Last night I received an email invitation to the Microsoft Tech Preview of there new Live Mesh service, this is Microsoft's attempt at getting back on top and having some relevance. There Mesh service is designed to connect things together, such as your computers, phone, and I would imagine in the future other computer type devices.

The Tech Preview seems fairly limited as it only seems to support Windows PCs, not Macs and no mobiles, apparently there coming soon. When you log into the service you are shown a ring and on this ring are all your connected computers along with a Live Desktop.

Live Mesh Desktop

When you connect a computer you need to install a small piece of software which allows synchronisation of files and what appears to be remote desktop connection software although I haven't tried this yet. When the software is installed you can create Mesh folders on your PC, you then place files into here to sync between PCs and the Live Desktop. Rather annoyingly you don't appear to be able to make an existing folder a Mesh folder it has to be a new one, this means I am unable to sync my whole My Docs folder I have to copy out files into a new folder first.

The other part of the service is the Live Desktop, this is a virtual desktop which does a good job of modeling the look and feel of Vista; the Mesh folders you create on your PCs are visible here along with the files. Simple files like images and audio files can be opened and played or viewed on the Live Desktop but when I tried to open a word document it tried to get me to download it.

Live Desktop

The next step for a service like this is to integrate office type software, so when a word or an excel document is opened it opens on the desktop in an online version of the software, even a viewer would do.

I think in the long term something like this would be good, I have a problem moving files between work and home and this may solve that problem, the mobile aspect may be useful as well but I rarely find myself moving files between these devices, I usually just email the files to myself that way I can pick it up on any of my devices.

I have been using the service for a few days and it seems fairly good, the remote desktop connection system is simple and easy to use and great for downloading files at work where p2p connections are very fast, when the file is downloaded I can then use the mesh folder synchronisation which uses http connections to move the file. The only annoyance I have come across is a problem with Visa machines with UAC disabled, this means for the time being I can't connect my main home PC.