Last week, with some help from our friends at LiveSide.net, we got a first look at a mobile web version of Microsoft Windows Live Mesh. It’s working great on my iPhone, but for now it does seem a bit limited when compared to the same portal on a Windows Mobile device. Keep in mind that Live Mesh is still in a preview state, so there’s bound to be bugs and functionality still in the works.
The LiveSide folks just came through again and I now have a first look at the Live Mesh client on my MacBook Pro. This app is still in a pre-beta state, so there’s bound to be changes, but from what I’ve seen, most of the functions are there and working. With the client on my Intel-based MacBook Pro running OS X 10.5.4, I was able to add my Mac as a device to my Mesh and all of my files and folders within
the Matrix my Mesh are in sync. Files and folders on my Vista-based UMPC are appearing on my Mac and vice versa.
For the moment, the largest bit of functionality I don’t see working inthe Mac version is the Remote Desktop function. It’s likely still inthe works, so certainly not a big deal to not see it in an early version of the app. I expect to see it because the caution sign on my MacBook Pro in my Mesh devices is there due to the Remote Connection function not working yet. In any case, there are other alternatives if you need this functionality now, i.e.: LogMeIn is free and works great for me on all of my devices.
So what is there and working? I have my Live Desktop, News, files,folders, etc… the Mac version inserts itself in the Menu bar, whereyou can navigate to files and folders as needed. Here, you can see thethree folders I have in my Live Mesh. Obviously, clicking the NewFolder option creates a new folder in the Mesh, while clicking AddExisting Folder lets you browse and choose a folder that’s on the localmachine; that folder will then be shared across devices on your Mesh.The next two options will open up your Live Desktop to show News, or ahistory of files and folder changes, or will allow you to manage thedevices in your Mesh. Remember that even without the client, you can see and use most of this right over the Live Mesh website in Safari or Firefox.
Just as you can for Windows devices, you can control thesynchronization settings for individual files and folders. They can besynched across the Mesh when being added or modified, when opened or notat all.
Here I’ve opened the Test Files folder from the menu bar; you cansee that it opens in Finder on the Mac, as expected. You can also seeLive Mesh properties in a separate window alongside: it provides theability to see the folder history, the Live Mesh members I might haveshared this folder with and also what devices this folder issynchronized with.
I like how folders in the Mesh appear differently when connected or disconnected from Live Mesh. Here’s the Test files folder on my Mac Desktop when connected.
And here’s the same folder on my Desktop when not connected. Looks like a regular file for now, but once we connect again, everything gets back in sync.
All in all, this client is looking to be similar (if not nearlyidentical) to the Windows client. And that makes sense. The goal from aconsumer standpoint isn’t to have many different looks and ways to getat the same set of data. The goal is to have your data easily accessible fromany of your devices. Although it’s very early yet, it looks likeMicrosoft is well on its way to meet that goal, regardless of whether youuse a mobile phone, a PC or a Mac. Just for kicks, here’s the same folder view on my UMPC; yes, it’s Windows Explorer and not Finder, but the files are there for use just the same.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the final Mesh product. The ability to work cross-platform is very appealing to me as I’m a "use the right tool for the task" kind of guy. If Live Mesh can be the glue that keeps all of my data together and available, so much the better.
Before I forget, I’ll just make a general comment or observation on Live Mesh performance in general. Don’t take it as an "end-all, be-all" performance commentary since the service is still in preview. However, it’s a good sign to me that on the Mac, I only see the client using between one and two percent of the CPU at any given time.