Live Mesh Not Yet Live

Sometimes an idea is so brilliant that my weak mind can't grasp it. Other times, I'm confused because the idea is too complex or the explanation unclear. Microsoft's new Live Mesh initiative clearly falls into one of these categories.

The basic concept is fairly simple. The mesh refers to the fact that most of us have multiple computing devices which will be able to communicate and synchronize by turning into our own private mesh. This mesh, which lets my laptop and phone have the same files as my desktop, also ties into to the "cloud" so our storage and services can be Web-based.

Here's where it gets a mite confusing: Live Mesh isn't really a thing we can plug into, but a set of developer services and technologies that allows meshes to be built. And developers can use nearly any language to build meshes.

I have many questions. First, shouldn't data synchronization between devices have been solved long ago? Didn't Windows 95 have Briefcase for just this purpose? Second, this sounds way too abstract and futuristic. Any time I see something this broad, without a lot of detail, I figure it will take years to emerge -- if it ever happens at all.

And, as I read into the details, it appears that Live Mesh will include a host of software services, which sounds great 'til you realize these have to be paid for somehow. One option is to clutter our screens with ads, which makes it hard to concentrate. (How can you write a memo to employees when you're staring at a bikini ad?) The other is to pay for them through subscriptions -- just one more item to add to the list that already includes our Symantec subscriptions, cell phones, cable TV and broadband Internet.

How much do you spend a month on TV, phone and Internet? Let us know by writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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Now, here's the weird catch: For the next year, you can buy a Vista PC and then have XP installed in its stead -- so-called downgrading. This sounds more convoluted than a Britney Spears press conference.

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The group's latest noble cause is green computing, and to that end Microsoft Research is working with Harvard, Stanford and a couple of big state universities to dramatically reduce datacenter and x86 processor power consumption. The University of Tennessee, for instance, is working on reducing the power demands of virtualized datacenters. Sounds pretty slick.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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