So Microsoft announced something interesting today, Live Mesh. It’s in limited beta mode now, but it shouldn’t be too long before Microsoft opens it up to the public. Techcrunch has the details. In a nutshell, it’s part file sharing, part backup, part synchronization. It’s kind of reminiscent of Apple’s Dotmac, but goes a fair bit beyond that.
While I haven’t played with it yet, and while I’m sure it’s still buggy and far from feature complete, it seems very neat, and earns Microsoft a rare kudos. If this is the indicative of the direction Ray Ozzie is going to be taking the company… there might still be some life in it yet.
The big problem? Microsoft needed to do this three or four years ago. It should have been a core part of Vista. Better late than never, I suppose – but whereas this might have kept me as a customer four years ago, now they’re at a point of needing to win me back. Mesh doesn’t quite reach that bar, at least not yet.
At this point my home network is a mish mash of computing platforms – I run Vista, OS X, and Ubuntu. Google Docs, while not nearly as elegant as MS Word, solves the synchronization problem for me, and Amazon S3 handles offsite backup. I might be getting a Blackberry or an iPhone at some point in the future.
To get me to switch, Microsoft needs to develop mesh into something that not only works across all these platforms, but proves itself to be a superior solution to anything that Google, Apple, or anyone else might offer.