In this new millennium, our lives are becoming increasingly digital, thanks to proliferation of devices — from MP3 players to digital cameras to cell phones and of course computers. The challenge is to keep a handle on the data on these digital devices and the software programs that go with these devices. Microsoft thinks it has the answer, and it is called Live Mesh.
The much-talked about technology is a service platform that allows users to manage and access different devices, share and synchronize files and stay in touch with others from any computer by using the Web as a hub. Live Mesh users can, for example, access photos on their mobile phone from their computer and make them available to friends by placing them in a shared folder. In order for devices to talk to each other, you need to install Live Mesh software.
It is also possible to follow a newsfeed that informs the user about the activities taking place in their Live Mesh; the status of different devices, the use of different files and people using them. People who share a folder can also chat with each other. In a demo given to us, Live Mesh seems well designed and easy to use. In a blog post, Microsoft gives all the details on the product.
Many have tried to fix the problem of digital complexity before. Apple has come closest to solving the e-riddle of devices. In many ways Live Mesh does remind us of Apple’s Digital Hub strategy, that included iSync software and dot.Mac service. It tried to solve the syncing riddle. There are many start-ups which are trying to solve this problem, most prominent of them being Sharpcast, that recently introduced its SugarSync service. Microsoft had also acquired FolderShare, an early player in data synchronization space, but never really did anything with that excellent service. (Related story: Pushing Microsoft Into The Cloud.)
Microsoft is going after rest of the market. According to Microsoft Chief Architect Ray Ozzie, Live Mesh is a lot more than a way to manage our devices with. In a speech earlier this year at Mix08, Ozzie said:
Just imagine the possibilities enabled by centralized configuration and personalization and remote control of all your devices from just about anywhere. Just imagine the convenience of unified data management, the transparent synchronization of files, folders, documents, and media. The bi-directional synchronization of arbitrary feeds of all kinds across your devices and the Web, a kind of universal file synch.
Earlier this year, when Om had a conversation with him, he said that he sees an opportunity there for the whole industry.
“If we have the opportunity right now to establish a model of devices hooking into the cloud using simple, simple, simple standards as opposed to big, heavy things, there might actually be a chance of us all doing it together.”
Ozzie thinks it’s about time that the challenge of digital complexity is answered. He said that the company has sold software to enterprises to manage “tens of thousands of PCs,” but “what the heck have we done for consumers to help them manage lots of different devices?” How about starting with Live Mesh? Lets us know if you try it out, and please share your initial impressions with rest of us.
Also, read Mary Jo Foley’s take on the announcement.
I’d go so far as to say Live Mesh will be Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie’s “make it or break it” project, given Ozzie has been setting the stage for Live Mesh since October 2005, when he outlined his pie-in-the-sky goals for it (without calling it Live Mesh) in his “Internet Services Disruption” memo to the troops.