Wave 4: Windows Live Sync – A First Look

Window Live SyncLast week we were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the Windows Live Essentials Preview website (http://windowslivepreview.com/essentials) as it briefly went online before it got locked out to the public again. We showed you the two Photo Gallery videos that we found, and today we’ll show give you a first look at the new Windows Live Sync. Here’s a screenshot from the Essentials Preview website showing the application:

Windows Live Sync

You can see that Windows Live Sync had been completely revamped, and now includes functionalities from the former Live Mesh, giving you the ability to sync your files directly to the cloud. In fact, when installing the new Windows Live Essentials, it will automatically remove Live Mesh if you have it installed already, and that you will need to set up your folders for syncing again (Live Mesh was, after all, just a beta product).

As shown in the screenshot above, the “Status” screen shows you the folders you have set up to sync. Clicking on “View permissions” will take you to the new Windows Live Devices website where you can select who you want to sync the folders with. Clicking on “Select the devices this folder syncs on” will allow you to select where you want to sync the files in the folder – this includes other computers where you have Windows Live Sync setup, or the new SkyDrive synced storage where you get 2GB of free cloud storage (we’re not sure at this stage whether this 2GB is interchangeable with the 25GB you get from the actual SkyDrive storage itself, but we sure hope we’ll get more storage as times goes on!). Everything else is taken care of automatically, and if you’ve modified some files in your synced folders and your are online, it will sync automatically in the background.

Also notice at the bottom of the screen is the ability to sync Program settings. At the moment, it only supports syncing Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office settings with other computers. For Internet Explorer, this is the replacement of the original favorites sync functionality in Windows Live Toolbar (to be discontinued in Wave 4). For Microsoft Office, you’ll be able to sync your e-mail signatures, styles, and templates that you have set up on your computer, and have them with you on every other computer you have Sync installed. We do expect that other programs might be added in the future (or perhaps an API for this?), but this is potentially a very useful feature.

The new Windows Live Sync also allow remote connections to your computer. Going to the “Remote” screen will let you choose whether you want to allow remote connections to the computer you are at. Once you’ve allowed this functionality, you can connect to this computer using one of the two ways – using Windows Live Sync on another computer, or using the Windows Live Devices website. Here’s a screenshot showing the remote connection using Windows Live Sync in action:

Remote Connection - Connecting

If you’ve tried out Live Mesh before, you’ll notice that this is very similar to the Live Mesh Remote Desktop functionality, in fact, it is based on the same technology as Live Mesh, ported over and integrated into Windows Live Sync:

Remote Connection

You can think of Windows Live Sync as the final version of Live Mesh. If you haven’t tried Live Mesh before, then this is a must-have application for you. You can forget about USB keys or burning DVDs to transfer files between your computers (and with others), as long as you’re connected to the internet, all you need is Windows Live Sync to keep your files in sync, wherever you go.