Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

Summary: Hold onto your hats, Windows Live fans. Microsoft is making a bunch of changes to what was going to be known as Windows Live Sync, its competitor to DropBox, that is slated to be part of Windows Live Essentials 2011.

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Hold onto your hats, Windows Live fans. Microsoft is making a bunch of changes to what was going to be known as Windows Live Sync, its competitor to DropBox, that is slated to be part of Windows Live Essentials 2011.

Many of the changes, which Microsoft is announcing on August 27, are good ones -- and ones that were requested by many of the folks who've been beta-testing what was formerly known as Live Mesh for the past couple of years.

First, the final name of Windows Live Sync is going to be.... Windows Live Mesh. In other words, the sync service that was originally named Windows Live Mesh, but then was renamed Windows Live Sync (when it was combined with the service that was formerly named FolderShare, and later Windows Live Sync), is back to being named Windows Live Mesh.

Right.... Next, Microsoft officials have bowed to complaints resulting from a decision to chop the online storage limit for Windows Live Mesh. Instead of the 2 GB which is the current limit (and one that Microsoft execs claimed made sense, given how few users ever used the previously offered 5 GB), Microsoft is going back to offering 5 GB of online storage to Live Mesh users.

Windows Live Mesh, when it is released to the Web, will enable users to detect missing files and see file names and when/where they were last modified, the Softies said today. And users also will have the ability to sync hidden files and folders.

The not-so-good news: Windows Live Mesh still isn't going to support mobile phones when Windows Live Essentials 2011 is released. The original beta of Windows Live Mesh supported syncing between PCs and between PCs and devices, but Microsoft eliminated the phone support earlier this summer. There's no word as to when/if phone support will be added back into the service. It's still in the plans, according to a company spokesperson, who reiterated: "With this release of Windows Live Mesh, the focus is on syncing folders between computers (PCs and Macs). In the future, the team will explore adding support for other devices including mobile phones."

According to Microsoft, since the release of the Windows Live Sync beta (as part of the Windows Live Essentials 2011 Beta 1 in June, 2010), more than 240,000 people have tried Windows Live Sync. The "average customer" syncs over 675 files with an average file size of 1.8 MB, and uses 240 MB of cloud storage, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft officials said these Live Mesh changes will take effect "when Windows Live Essentials 2011 is released in the fall of 2010." I asked whether Microsoft intended to offer another beta build/refresh of Windows Live Essentials 2011 (something more current than the "beta refresh" made available in  August) before that for testing purposes and didn't hear back by the time I published this post.

I also asked about the relationship between SkyDrive and Live Mesh -- something ArsTechnica ranted about as being overly complex and confusing in a recent post. "SkyDrive offers 25GB for sharing photos and Office docs on the web. SkyDrive also offers an additional 5GB (via Live Mesh) for syncing files from your PC so that you can access them anywhere or so you can synchronize files between two PCs without having both online at the same time," said a spokesperson. That seems consistent with the current Live Sync/Live Mesh beta scenario, from what I can tell.

Does this win back any of you Live Mesh fans who were unhappy about Microsoft's initial changes? If not, what does Microsoft need to fix (beyond phone support) to fend off DropBox and its ilk?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

    When Mesh went to Sync they dropped support for XP. Granted, XP is long in the tooth but still, many people were mad and probably went to Drop Box.
    Personally, I don't care what they call it as long as they stop changing the name!
    One huge advantage over Drop Box is that you don't have to use the cloud. You can sync more then 5GB just using Mesh (or whatever) as the conduit. And then there is the remote desktop feature that has saved my bacon many a time.
    Those 2 features are huge. MS should stop messing around with names. Pick one, and market the heck out of this great product!
    Scott K.
    • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

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    • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

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  • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

    To me, Window Live was more useful before than it is now.
    - My folders are not always synchronised. My guess is that it is because Live Sync requires the two computers to be on and connected at the same time. Live Mesh did not because the data transited through storage on the web.
    - I cannot specify different accesses for subfolders. Let me explain : My my-documents folder need to be synced with two computers (my laptop and my desktop). Inside this folder, I have many projects that I need to sync with my clients but I can only give them access to their projects alone, not to my whole My document folder (for obvious reasons).
    It was never possible with Live Sync and Live Mesh alone but the fact that you could install both provided a workaround sinc I could dedicate Live Sync to sync my computers and Live Mesh to share subfolders with clients.
    JB5645
    • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

      @JB5645 Well, there is another work around for that obviously. You can share each project folder individually and then add the people who need to share it to each folder. You can then synch you whole My Documents folder on top of that (including all the subfolders) and lock it only to you.

      It looks like the current version of the Beta you can share any given root folder with up to 9 people.

      The only major issue I see at the moment is you can't restrict someone to read only access. Hopefully that will change soon.
      Michael L Jones
      • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

        @Michael L Jones
        Sorry if I missed something but your obvious solution is not available. That's the issue.
        When I click on "sync a folder" and try to select a folder containing or being contained by another synced folder, I get the message : "This folder can't be synced. It is already being synced, contains folders that are already being synced, or is in a folder that is already being synced. "
        Seems to me this clearly excludes your solution.
        JB5645
    • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

      @JB5645

      What I do is synchronize at the smallest level of granularity. Suppose My Documents has folders A, B, and C, and folder A has 1, 2, and 3. Maybe I want to share #2 with you and #3 with another person. So then I have to sync: B, C, and 1, 2, and 3 separately.
      marsh@...
      • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

        @marsh@...
        Not very practical. So, if you have 100 other folders in A, you need to sync all of them separately: very messy. The solution of Michael L Jones would be far better... except it doesn't exist.
        JB5645
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  • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

    Windows Live is becoming a joke! Yet another laugh, name change, if after all this time the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing week to week. Understandable that phone support is not finalised..waiting to see who's phone wins the competition. Would not want to mesh to an iphone or android device when we can wait and make it exclusive to Win 7 phone.
    Micro Mess may be more appropo.
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  • Love it

    I was pissed when they dropped the storage from 5GB to 2GB. I was one of the few who used over 2GB for my Mesh storage. Glad to see it is coming back.

    I have a feeling the phone sync stuff may come back when WP7 launches in the fall.
    rjohn05
  • Dropbox in Dropdead easy

    Although I am a big fan of Microsoft, Both Mesh and sync were complicated and did not always work. Dropbox works perfectly with no learning curve on all four of my computers, iPhone & iPad. Make it easy for us non-tech folk. :-)
    drlake_blcs
  • Does this mean the new sync framework supports ...

    ... synching between Windows 7 and Windows XP PCs? I don't think MS had to eliminate synching between Windows 7 and Windows XP PCs. MS could have simply provided different levels of synching services - depending on the OS on a machine. Also synching is too confusing:

    1) I don't believe the framework should allow you to create two or more sets of synchronized folders with the same name. The system now allows you to do so, and you sometimes inadvertently do this, and wind up with duplicate sets of synched folders.

    2) There should be a local mesh application on each PC / device, that allows you to centrally manage all your mesh related activities. Functionality appears now to be in elements found all over PCs. Apart from all the functionality mesh currently allows you to do, mesh should list all synchronized folders, and provide an opportunity for you to synchronize a folder on your PC / device, with a particular folder within the mesh system. Also, when you select a particular folder in the mesh system, it should list all PCs / devices that have folders that are synchronized with it.
    P. Douglas
  • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

    Dropbox has a huge advantage over Live Mesh and Live Sync: delta sync.
    MFRD
  • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

    Live Mesh is great. I've been using it since the beginning, and I currently have it running on three machines, XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

    I'm happy to hear that storage will be 5GB instead of 2GB.
    NonSuch_z
  • LiveMesh vs LiveSync vs Dropbox

    Hi Mary-Jo, I think this blog does a nice comparison of LiveMesh vs LiveSync vs Dropbox

    http://mikefourie.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/windows-live-essentials-wave-4-betalive-sync/

    Adam
    www.adamcogan.com
    adamcogan@...
    • RE: Windows Live whiplash: Live Sync reverts back to Live Mesh

      @adamcogan@...

      Indeed, with one caveat: I think Dropbox just added P2P sync. Everything still has to sync to the cloud, though, so it still adds to the overall space limit.

      . . . and it doesn't mention delta sync at all, which is something that can hugely benefit some applications that store stuff in one large file.

      I'm actually curious as to whether Live Sync is using delta sync or not.
      CobraA1