Live Sync: life after Live Mesh

live mesh logoThe thing is, we were as invested in Live Mesh as anybody, probably more so.  We’ve been avid followers since back when it was only us and the hamsters and the gerbils.  In December of 2007 we told you to “Pay Attention to FeedSync”, then we followed Ray Ozzie to Mix to see what was on the Horizon, and we’ve been devoted Live Mesh users ever since.

Truth be told, we’ve been hearing rumblings for months that the new Live Sync wouldn’t carry forward the 5gb (or even 30gb for some select few) of cloud sync that Live Mesh users were used to.  But we understand (we think) why the change was necessary.  Some bean counters at Microsoft, for one thing, started doing the math on how much storage would be required to accommodate the flood of new Live Sync users coming with Wave 4, and that was the end of that.  Paul Thurrott, in his delightfully cynical way, describes it best:

…it’s pretty clear that the 25 GB limit is and has been a bit of a game, because Microsoft has also made it very, very difficult to populate that storage within anything meaningful to actual users. Just ask anyone who’s tried to upload documents or photos in bulk about how difficult it is using Microsoft’s almost non-existent tools. (Only a web uploader is provided, and there is no automated method/Explorer add-in at all.)

Windows Live Sync, of course, does provide an automated way to put stuff in the cloud. So now that Microsoft has made this process easy in certain scenarios, they’ve also taken away storage instead of adding it, as one might expect when Live Mesh/Sync is combined with Windows Live SkyDrive. It’s just another game: It can be huge but inaccessible or tiny but accessible, apparently.

Quite a number of readers commented on David Treadwell’s blog post highlighting Live Sync, with a number of concerns.  Jeremy Mazner from Live Sync (actually: Principal Program Manger Lead for Live Sync Client Runtime, ouch) responded to many of them, and we’ll try to sum up his responses here:

  • Some stuff about how 2gb is really ok, after all
  • Live Mesh users will have at least 6 months after the beta ends and Live Sync is released to move content from Live Mesh to Live Sync (or where ever).  Installing Wave 4 will uninstall Live Mesh and install Live Sync, you can’t have both on the same machine.
  • No plans to add remote desktop for the Mac
  • Sharing between Live Mesh and Live Sync, or the old Live Sync and the new one, are not possible
  • You can’t move files from the Live Sync part of SkyDrive to the other part of SkyDrive “in this release”

Microsoft still needs to offer a way to provide cloud storage for your synced files, and users seem willing to pay if a pricing and a billing model could be worked out (hey, there’s this thing called Azure, with cloud storage and a billing model and sync and…, ever hear of it?).  We haven’t heard much recently about an SDK, and we’re hoping that developers both within and beyond Microsoft will be able to extend Live Sync. 

We’re also perplexed, four years after Windows Live Favorites was released, why we still don’t have an easy built in way to store IE favorites in the cloud. This seems to be the perfect use of that 2gb: fill it with Favorites, Office settings, and Messenger conversation history, and call it good, with a business model for more cloud storage sync on top of that.  We used to have Windows Live Favorites, and after that the Windows Live Toolbar, and now no cloud sync at all?

But we’re excited to try out the new Live Sync.  We think going with just one sync product is the right move, we (begrudgingly) understand the massive scale issues with giving people large cloud storage, and we’re willing to wait (but not another year or more!) for more features to be added.

What do you think about how you’ll be using Live Sync?  Let us know by voting in our new poll (in the sidebar on the right), and fire away in the comments.