Microsoft Live Mesh users: Read the Windows Essentials 2012 fine print

Microsoft Live Mesh users: Read the Windows Essentials 2012 fine print

Summary: It's looking like Microsoft is doing what some users of its PC sync service had feared: Replacing it with SkyDrive, even though it still doesn't offer the same set of features.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Cloud, Microsoft, Windows
34

Microsoft released on August 7 a new bundle of free services meant to complement Windows 7 and Windows 8. Now known as "Windows Essentials" rather than "Windows Live Essentials," it adds some new capabilities, but also removes Live Mesh from the PCs of those who install it.

winliveessentialshome

Microsoft has used the "Windows Live Essentials" name to refer to the bundle of services that has included Windows Live Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Family Safety (parental controls), Writer (its blogging tool) and Mesh (its PC sync service). Microsoft released the 2011 version of its Windows Live Essentials bundle in mid-2011.

The 2012 version of the Windows Essentials bundle includes updated versions of Movie Maker and Photo Gallery. Mail, Messenger and Writer are all still in there but don't seem to have been updated much, if at all, based on comments from those comparing the new Windows Essentials 2012 bits to the Windows Live Essentials 2011 ones. (If you've downloaded it and found anything worth noting in other components of the new bundle, please chime in below in the comments....)

There is one change though that some users are discovering by unhappy surprise. Microsoft is replacing Live Mesh with SkyDrive, its cloud storage service, on the PCs of those who install Windows Essentials 2012. (Microsoft acknowledges this when users click on a link in the original post that says it leads to more information on what's new in Movie Maker and Photo Gallery.)

Microsoft has been hinting that it was going to send Live Mesh to the graveyard for a while now. But as a number of those using Live Mesh have noted, while SkyDrive includes a number of the same features as Live Mesh, it omits others. And some of these other features are ones that many Live Mesh users are unwilling to do without. With Live Mesh, users can sync between PCs without going to the cloud to do so. And with Mesh, users have more granular control over how much of their content they sync, something they don't have with SkyDrive.

When I asked Microsoft officials in the past if the plan was to replace completely Live Mesh with SkyDrive, a spokesperson would say only: “As we discussed recently, we are excited to bring the DNA of SkyDrive and Mesh together to provide our customers with seamless access to their content. We think you will find SkyDrive to be increasingly useful over time.”

Here are Microsoft's warnings on what Live Mesh users should expect if they download Windows Essentials 2012:

"If you have Windows Live Mesh installed, it will automatically be removed if you install the new Movie Maker or Photo Gallery (available as part of Windows Essentials 2012).

"Microsoft SkyDrive will be installed in place of Windows Live Mesh. To sync folders from the cloud to all of your PCs, you will need to install SkyDrive on all of your PCs or Macs."

If you don't install Windows Essentials 2012 on any of your PCs, Live Mesh continues to work as usual. f you have uninstalled Windows Live Mesh, you can still reinstall it, as it is still available as part of Windows Live Essentials 2011, according to Microsoft. Microsoft also notes users cannot install and run both both Windows Essentials 2012 (with the new Movie Maker or Photo Gallery) and Windows Live Mesh on the same PC.

With those caveats, it's back to what is new in the Windows Essentials 2012 Movie Maker and Photo Gallery components.

Movie Maker, when used on Windows 8, can now smooth out wobbly videos. It also now includes the ability to add music from AudioMicro, Free Music Archive and the Vimeo Music Store (all with the appropriate rights secured by Microsoft) or from a user's own PC to user-made movies. The new Photo Gallery now has an Auto Collage feature. It also allows users to share videos straight to Vimeo from Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.

Update: LiveSide.net has a good list of all the new features in Movie Maker and Photo Gallery.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Windows

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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

34 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • And what of the Remote feature?

    What MS component replaces that? I use it all the time to remotely control other PCs. I know there are other standalone services out there but this was already integrated with the live mesh product.
    User94327
    • Yes!

      I almost never use the file sharing aspects of Live Mesh - but I use the remote desktop features almost daily since it works through firewalls. SkyDrive has nothing like it.
      The Werewolf!
    • The closest they have

      At the moment is the ability to get to all files on any drive on any PC that is trusted via Sky Drive and you windows live account.
      MrCaddy
    • I don't think there is a direct alternative.

      It doesn't look like Remote Assistance is in Windows 8 (not that it's really the same anyway) and Remote Desktop Connection of course is very different.

      To be far Remote Desktop was only a subset feature of Live Mesh, it was never a main feature and it's OTT to put it lightly to install Live Mesh just for Remote Desktop. The likes of LogMeIn offer a free and much more thorough alternative.

      Just because it has Microsoft at the start, it doesn't make it a better product.

      p.s - Live Mesh's Peer to Peer and granular synchronisation features having not made it to SkyDrive does really suck though.
      bradavon
    • Saw this coming

      I used Live Mesh extensively but it had lots of major drawbacks too. Unfortunately Skydrive fixed none of those and is still horribly slow. You can chew up half a laptop battery just starting Skydrive (like Mesh), change one byte in a 1 gig file and it sends the whole thing, change one file and it scans all of them, throughput to their servers is a joke, limited platform capability and it is missing many features.

      When I saw the writing on the wall for Mesh, I knew it was coming just like Mesh Beta and all the MS sync solutions before those, I switched our cloud to dropbox and it has been flawless. It IS worth the money. A 100 or 200gig box covers whatever Mesh did for our office plus sharing with other dropbox users. Anyone want a referral for extra space? http://db.tt/pCX8XpT

      Remote admin/desktop was a really nice in Mesh but Team Viewer is a better solution too! You can install a permanent server daemon or remote users can run a help instance. Best of all it is free unless you are using it to make money say as an IT desk/business.
      LarsDennert
    • Just for desktop control

      Free programs like RealVnc and TightVNC are good options.
      martin_js
      • They are ok options but not the best

        They do not display some video layers. like if you are using visual studio you will not see the intellisense or you will not be able to do anything if a security warning pops up.
        B_Manx
    • RDP was the ONLY feature of Live Essentials I ever used.

      They need to provide something to replace it. RDP really didn't belong in essentials in the first place. It's more of a power-user feature. They should either move it into SkyDrive or provide a new package similar to Live Essentials but for power users.
      kinect_dev
    • Poor windoze fanbuis

      They've come to rely on some of this junk and now the rug is being pulled out from under them.

      Good news.

      :)
      CaviarBlack
  • This isnt a surprise. Not sure where I read it but not in the fine print

    Probably been talked about here on zdnet before.
    Johnny Vegas
  • SkyDrive will likely grow into Mesh...

    It sounds like Microsoft has big plans for SkyDrive. At the moment, it's not quite as powerful as Mesh (at least in some areas), but it sounds like Microsoft is going to expand its functionality over time.
    metromalenyc
  • Microsoft Live Mesh users: Read the Windows Essentials 2012 fine print

    The Microsoft Live Mesh users knew this was coming so it shouldn't be much of a surprise at all.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • I'll be very dissapointed

    if there is no replacement.
    Benjamin Griffel
  • Don't expect RDP functionality

    I've been looking at what Microsoft has been working on for the past while and it looks like the options for remotely accessing files from existing systems will be relegated to servers (the solution servers like Windows Server Essentials and Storage Server Essentials do this quite well with Remote Web Access).

    What Microsoft wants you to do is to set up your own cloud environment consisting of a Remote Web Access server where you can securely log in and get access to your files, shared over the incorporated web site. SharePoint file libraries are also an option for larger companies. The key is, everything is cloud-based. RDP is deprecated for home users because (I think) they see it as being too complicated for the average user, and that's what they look at when they start cutting features like this. They also probably have metrics to show that few people used the RDP feature of Mesh. SkyDrive is simpler, and it includes the same file-sharing capabilities of Mesh, and that's what most users care about. Windows Live Essentials was all about making advanced things simpler for home users, and I can see why "remoting from one desktop computer into another computer so that you can see its screen so as to use it like you're sitting in front of it" isn't something you can easily describe to the average hockey-mom. Besides that, most families are getting more and more into having a separate laptop for their teenager (so that it's their responsibility to fix it when - not if - they screw it up).
    Joe_Raby
  • Don't expect RDP functionality

    I've been looking at what Microsoft has been working on for the past while and it looks like the options for remotely accessing files from existing systems will be relegated to servers (the solution servers like Windows Server Essentials and Storage Server Essentials do this quite well with Remote Web Access).

    What Microsoft wants you to do is to set up your own cloud environment consisting of a Remote Web Access server where you can securely log in and get access to your files, shared over the incorporated web site. SharePoint file libraries are also an option for larger companies. The key is, everything is cloud-based. RDP is deprecated for home users because (I think) they see it as being too complicated for the average user, and that's what they look at when they start cutting features like this. They also probably have metrics to show that few people used the RDP feature of Mesh. SkyDrive is simpler, and it includes the same file-sharing capabilities of Mesh, and that's what most users care about. Windows Live Essentials was all about making advanced things simpler for home users, and I can see why "remoting from one desktop computer into another computer so that you can see its screen so as to use it like you're sitting in front of it" isn't something you can easily describe to the average hockey-mom. Besides that, most families are getting more and more into having a separate laptop for their teenager (so that it's their responsibility to fix it when - not if - they screw it up).
    Joe_Raby
    • I agree but what about Windows 8 Pro?

      Windows 8 Pro is not for home users or hockey moms. It's for professionals to get their work done. The advanced RDP features in Live Essentials may not have belonged there, but they need to exist somewhere. (And I don't want to run Windows Server on my laptop just to get power-user features.)

      I aggree that the RDP feature wasn't widely used but part of that was bad marketing (and bundling it with Live Essentials intead of some other professional productivity suite.) I only recently discovered it was there and I have spent plenty of time and money on other third-party products to get the same thing. If I had known it was available earlier I would have been using it back in 2008. They really should have made it known.
      kinect_dev
      • Hmmm...

        Probably like any MS product, if it works with Pro, it will be there. Unsure why you are asking. All the tools [if I'm right] found in WE 2012 are in Windows 8.
        Gisabun
  • Sorry Microsoft

    But I live by the RDP feature. Want me to upgrade? Support it. Don't just trash it without asking. There's no reason I can't keep using it.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • I agree

      Unless they provide an RDP solution I won't be able to switch over to Windows Essentials 2012.
      kinect_dev
  • Cant you simply use Remote Desktop in Win8Pro

    Since the upgrade is for Windows 8 Pro I think most PC's will end up with Pro and you have been able to RDP to Pro machines for years. Maybe I am missing something here.
    thekman58