2009: The Year Ahead – Live Mesh

Live_Mesh 2008 brought us an early look at Live Mesh, at its core a way to synchronize data across devices and into the cloud, using a set of RSS extensions now known as Feedsync.  Starting out with the ability to sync data between pcs and a 5gb storage space at www.mesh.com, limited abilities to sync to mobile devices and to Macs appeared late in the year.  At LeWeb in Paris this fall, attendees were upgraded to 30gb of storage, and perhaps the first order of business for 2009 will be to offer the larger storage space for more users, as well as to expand the mobile beta.

Live Mesh enabled Windows Live applications have been promised for the Wave 4 timeframe (timed to a release of Windows 7 in the fall, perhaps? ), and we should expect a replacement for the soon to be defunct Windows Live OneCare’s photo backup service.  Beyond that we can certainly hope for “meshification” of everything from IE Favorites to Live Maps collections to address books, but how soon, or if at all, any of that takes place remains to be seen.

The Favorites issue is interesting as there seems to be a bit of a political struggle between Live Mesh and “Windows Live Sync”, what used to be known as FolderShare.  Live Mesh is a platform but what we see of it, the “product”, is more a proof of concept technology preview.  Windows Live Sync, on the other hand, is much more of a full fledged product, complete with a user base, but it’s built on much less of a cutting edge platform.  While Windows Live Sync functionality is installed as part of Windows Live Photo Gallery, the standalone product isn’t included in Windows Live Essentials, and currently you can’t even get into using Sync through Photo Gallery:

Windows Live Sync isn't accepting new users for Gallery Sync

Microsoft has been close-lipped when asked about the future of Windows Live Sync, and Ray Ozzie may have been more interested in getting Live Mesh out in public than in figuring out the intricacies of these types of conflicts.  What becomes of Live Mesh as a product, and/or Windows Live Sync itself, will be worth watching in 2009.

crunchieWe thought we might catch a mention of Live Mesh at Steve Ballmer’s keynote at CES, but along with Windows Mobile 6.5, IE6 for Mobile, and Zune Mobile, we were left hanging, at least for the time being.

Another interesting aspect of Live Mesh in 2009 is in seeing what 3rd parties start to do.  Of course, with the platform still far from complete (as evidenced by Live Mesh’s breaking of Windows 7’s Aero, just to name one small example), we doubt anyone will be jumping into the deep end with Live Mesh, but as the year progresses and the platform solidifies and expands, the cross platform and cross device capabilities of Live Mesh will be compelling.

Live Mesh walked away with an award for “Best Technology Innovation/Achievement” at this year’s Crunchies Awards, hosted by TechCrunch in San Francisco, and if that usually anti-Microsoft crowd was impressed, Ray Ozzie and Live Mesh might well be on to something.  Live Mesh might just be one of the big stories of the year, along with Windows 7 and Office 14.  Clearly though, there’s lots of work to be done and lots more to unveil.