Microsoft Live Mesh

For the past few months, I’ve been using Microsoft’s Live Mesh system. It’s still in Beta, but is so genuinely useful that I’d find it hard to function without it.

Put simply – Mesh is a tool for synchronising data across multiple devices – using the Internet. Once registered, you get a ‘Mesh Desktop’ (which looks like a simple Windows Desktop – in your browser). Where it gets good is that you can now link folders on your laptop, home PC, or Windows phone to your mesh, and create synchronisation rules between them. If I save a Word document to a Mesh-enabled folder on my laptop – it gets automatically synchronised to the matching folder on my cloud-based Mesh desktop. If I’m not online, the synchronisation will be deferred until I am, and happens automatically in the background.

If I have a second PC – the synchronisation of that Word Document can go a stage further and deliver the document to a folder on that PC as well. Also automatically and without prompting. It doesn’t matter if both PC’s aren’t powered on or connected – the sync just waits until they are and then brings the machine up to date.

In practice, then… I Mesh-enable the key data folders on my main office PC (just a right-click option and the folder changes from yellow to blue to tell me its’ new status). I just work as usual with the folder– cutting, pasting, saving , deleting. Meanwhile – in the background, Mesh is synchronising all those changes up to the cloud, and lining up a queue of changes to deliver to my other machines when it can.

Next day, I have a client meeting in London and I know I won’t be needing any serious computer power, so I take my little MSI Wind (Windows 7 plus Mesh!) instead of a ‘proper’ laptop. I can open up the Netbook, double-click into my data folders – and there are the documents I was working on yesterday, In practice, I’ve never yet opened up that Netbook to find a file and been let down.

In short….


Almost as a sideline – Live Mesh also uses that secure data-connection between your PCs to provide remote-desktop access between them (but only within the secure little community of trusted machines that you have joined to your Mesh). I don’t need GoToMyPC or the other paid services, and it’s pretty firewall-friendly.

By the way – did I mention that you can run Mesh on OS X? Yep – there’s a Mac version.

This is one of those products that “Just works” – I can’t help but view Live Mesh as an example of the new post-Gates Microsoft – delivering really well rounded products that do something technically clever but looking terribly simple (as opposed to doing something technically clever and making sure your face is rubbed in that cleverness and complexity – I’m looking at you, SharePoint).

Bill Gates’ role as Chief Software Architect has been taken over by Ray Ozzie – (creator of Lotus Notes and Microsoft Groove). I’m sure it’s simplistic to say that Mesh and the like is all down to Ray Ozzie , but there does seem to be a real change to they way Microsoft is doing things, and that has coincided with his arrival. Microsoft is picking up on the change of style, and it’s showing.

Just as a final recommendation – I read first about Mesh via the blog of Microsoft’s Steve Clayton, by the way – a blog worth adding to your list. He also led me to the art of Hugh McLeod, an example of which I now use on the back of my business cards.