Monday, July 21, 2008

Wrapping My Head Around Microsoft Live Mesh

In late April, I started seeing interesting articles regarding Microsoft's Live Mesh that were stating that Microsoft "is bringing its developers onto the Internet in an interesting new way" with Live Mesh. My gut was telling me that this was important stuff, but I did not have the time to dig in.

In May, my gut started rumbling again after Matt Asay (whom I'm a big fan of) posted "Where did Microsoft's ambition go?". The key parts of his post that stuck with me were:
"Microsoft does need ambition on the web....makes me think the company has too much cash to be able to see a future where it's largely irrelevant, awash in tablets but a nonentity on the web that stitches them together."

No offense Matt, but based on my experience over the past two decades, one should never, ever count Microsoft out. Ever. Remember OS/2, remember Netware, remember Netscape?

Since I've been spending the better part of this year focused on the Social Web, I left myself a todo to spend some time figuring out Live Mesh, especially after reading the "Full text of Ray Ozzie Mesh Memo". The quote that stuck with me was:
"Community on the web once meant “group communications”, largely through rudimentary tools such as email, IM and IRC, message boards and newsgroups. Today, the action has shifted toward using composite communications tools and platforms that mash together content, applications and commerce, all within the context of group interaction. These social platforms are altering the way we connect and coordinate, establish identity and affinities, and build reputation."

That quote showed me that Microsoft (or at least Ray Ozzie) gets it! So, if Microsoft is able to execute on this vision, they will resurrect themselves once again.

Anyhow, over the weekend I finally spent time on my todo. I came across a very informative video by Ori Amiga from Microsoft that really helped me understand Microsoft's Live Mesh strategy and MOE (the Mesh Operating Environment). In the hour-long "Programming the Mesh" video, Ori shows a number of demos covering the native Mesh feeds, applications using Mesh, a Silverlight client that supports working on and offline, a custom Facebook application that syncs Facebook photos with Live Mesh, a Mac client that sends photos to Live Mesh, and LINQ queries over Mesh objects.

I also read an article by Steve Gillmor on TechCrunchIT , where he stated that Microsoft Live Mesh is "essentially a rewrite of Notes replication over open protocols with FeedSync combined with an atomization of social media primitives into a new platform on which to build applications that are identity rather than hardware or native OS-centric. Today, we see Live Mesh as about virtualizing files from the containing device over a Web hub, but at a deeper level, the Mesh is as much an information router as a bit traffic cop. How to act on the data becomes more strategic than the underlying job of moving things around to follow the user."

It is great to see that Microsoft realizes the importance of weaving basic social primitives into the experience of the users of their platforms. You can be sure that I will be following the progress of Live Mesh as it continues its rollout over the coming quarters.

Bottom-line: I just knew when I joined Ringside Networks that we were at the center of something pretty big. Folks like Google and Facebook get it...and what I've seen of Live Mesh, I believe Microsoft gets it as well.

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