Microsoft has unveiled technology which it claims is designed to break down barriers between data on local devices and information hosted online.
In an internal staff memo sent out on Wednesday, Microsoft's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, detailed the company's vision for Live Mesh, a set of services and platforms that enables PCs and other devices to connect to each other through the internet
Ozzie said there has been an evolution from rudimentary tools, such as email, message boards and newsgroups, to a higher level. Today, he said, the action has shifted toward communications tools and platforms that mash together content, applications and commerce, all within the context of group interaction.
"All applications will grow to recognise and utilise the inherent group-forming aspects of their connection to the web, in ways that will become fundamental to our experiences. In scenarios ranging from productivity to media and entertainment, social mesh notions of linking, sharing, ranking and tagging will become as familiar as 'file', 'edit' and 'view'," said Ozzie.
Ozzie said that many enterprises are in the early stages of evolving their infrastructure in step with the future he envisions for Live Mesh, due to technologies such as cloud computing and virtualisation.
According to Reuters, the program will initially be limited to 10,000 US testers and computers running Windows XP and Vista, but Microsoft said it plans to extend Live Mesh over the next few months to mobile phones, computers from Apple and other devices connected to the internet.
In practical terms, Microsoft said, once its Live Mesh software is installed on each of a user's devices, the need for mailing attachments between desktop and mobile or any other unit is removed, as the software synchronises data across all devices within a user's "personal device mesh". For subsequent access, the company said its Live Desktop environment provides 5GB of free, password-protected storage and can be used from most web browsers.
In a further effort to position the new software, Ozzie alluded to a memo he wrote over two years ago entitled The Internet Services Disruption, when the company was still focused on bringing the Office 2007 and Vista products to market.
"It was truly software, not services, that was top of mind. Since then, we've made tremendous progress in our expansion towards software plus services. In light of all the work that we're doing, it's important that we build a shared sense of what Microsoft's path looks like in this transition towards software plus services. For consumers, advertisers and publishers," Ozzie said.