Live Mesh week: Ray Ozzie’s biggest bet since Groove?

We’ve been telling you to get ready for this since last December, and this week, Ray Ozzie and the Windows Live Core team are preparing to unveil their first big project, Live Mesh.  We gave you the rundown on Live Mesh last week: sync devices to each other and the “cloud”, share files and folders, allow remote access to files and programs from another mesh device, or from a “web desktop”, all from one common interface.

So what makes Live Mesh such a big bet?  Isn’t it pretty much like Foldershare, or Groove, or one of the web 2.0 startup offerings?  Those, of course, are good questions.  While we’ve been able to ferret out some information about what Live Mesh is, how it works, and what it does, we haven’t yet seen it in action. Is it just another variation, another attempt at file sync and sharing?  In an email interview with Steven Hazel, Mary Jo Foley asked:

MJF: Foldershare is supposedly a precursor to the mesh architecture/synchronization services Ray Ozzie described at Mix. In your words, could you explain how Foldershare fits in with mesh? Will mesh supersede (and replace) Foldershare?

: Honestly, I can’t figure out what the heck those guys are talking about.

However we know there are some key differences.  As a Windows Live offering, Live Mesh should be a free download, or at least have a free component (we’re expecting Live Mesh to start out with a 5gb web desktop offering).  Groove, on the other hand, is a $229 install (or a $79/yr subscription) per user.  Foldershare, along with some reliability issues, and shaky functionality, doesn’t provide the cloud based “web desktop” piece.  Other services are either just getting started, haven’t proven reliable, or have been pulled off the marketplace.

Live Mesh is an opportunity for Ray Ozzie and the new guard at Microsoft.  The Live Mesh bet could pay off big if the Microsoft Sync Framework, and RSS shared extensions (or Feedsync) work reliably, quickly, and robustly.  If it works as Ina Fried is hearing, cross browser, and coming soon, cross platform, it could help to signal real commitment to a more open Microsoft.  Internally, there have been rumblings about Ozzie’s ability to ship software, and Live Mesh could help there, as well.

We’ll have a lot more on Live Mesh very soon, and will be bringing you interviews and demos from the Web 2.0 Expo later in the week.  Will Live Mesh prove to be as exciting as we’re thinking?  It won’t be long til we find out.