Live Mesh: Boy have we got questions!

mesh_thumb Opinion First of all, congratulations to Ray Ozzie and the Windows Live Core/Live Mesh team(s) for an impressive initial offering, and for opening up the Live Mesh platform this early in the game.  We’re just getting our head around Live Mesh as a platform, and not just another file sharing app.  BTW this video (edit: fixed link) gives a good introduction into some of the platform aspects of Live Mesh.  One of the problems with this kind of early admittance is that a number of questions around the strategy and direction have to remain unanswered until the platform fills out.  Of course, that doesn’t stop us from asking!

What about Foldershare?

Windows Live Foldershare, still in beta, seems to be totally redundant to what Live Mesh offers.  In fact, with the cloud storage piece, and “coming soon” functionality for the Apple Mac and for mobile devices, Live Mesh seems primed to leapfrog Foldershare quite handily.  This is a familiar Windows Live theme, offering redundant, competing, and confusing services.  We hoped that with the efforts to clean up the Windows Live debacle that sort of thing was behind us.  Until someone comes up with a plausible answer to why on earth anyone would want both Foldershare and Live Mesh installed on the same computer at the same time, we have to ask: what about Foldershare?

When will we see Windows Live Calendar integration?  Favorites? etc.?

As much as Live Mesh is a cool development environment, and as much potential as it holds, end users are still faced with the same old problems.  Windows Live Calendar, for as long as we waited for it, just simply doesn’t do the job we need it to do.  Users need to be able to create, sync, and share calendars easily and seamlessly.  We need the rich abilities of a client app to create calendars, not some watered down web app.  And we need to then seamlessly sync to other computers, to a web interface, and to other users on a granular level.  Live Mesh seems to be built to do exactly that, so where is the calendar?  Are we going to have to wait until PDC or beyond to get a working calendar?

Ditto the same questions for Windows Live Favorites, etc.

What is the backup story, and what about a business model?

Live Mesh is shipping now with 5gb of storage.  Yet I have nearly a TB (not all of it used, of course) on my Windows Home Server, and Live Mesh would seem to be a logical either alternative or adjunct to a backup service.  Will I be able to subscribe (in the pay as you go sense, not in the RSS sense) to enough storage to make cloud backup an option?  The same questions have been swirling around Sky Drive, but cloud storage as a consumer subscription service is still an unanswered question.

Do we have to go through this naming mess again?

Most of the stories on Techmeme today are about a file syncing product, called Live Mesh.  Yet we know that Live Mesh isn’t a product, its a platform.  What happens when new sets of functionality are added?  Will the name change?  Will confusion reign (again)?  Microsoft concentrates on platform, and we’re very impressed by this latest platform offering, Live Mesh.  We think its a game changer.  But Microsoft still doesn’t seem to understand how much flubbing the naming of products, of not having a clear story going in, hurts.  Now when you’re changing the game, having a clear story is tricky.  But Windows Live has less of an impact today than it should because people wrote it off, mostly because of the naming debacle.  Will we have to go through the whole mess again?

Live Mesh, at first glance, rocks.  The model is well thought out, the tools will soon be in place to extend the platform and use it in new and exciting ways.  But Windows Live users need answers to the basic questions first, before we look to the sky.  Hopefully, in the next weeks and months, we’ll be able to look up and see the potential Ray Ozzie is offering us.  For right now, though, our basic needs aren’t being met, and we don’t know that Live Mesh will be providing the answers we need.