With mention of Live Mesh together with the Azure announcement at PDC recently, and the fact that Mesh is one of the few services out there in public beta, I thought I would share a little of how I use Live Mesh and in particular what it is doing for me during my visit to Tech Ed in Barcelona.
I have signed up for pretty much all of the "get data from us" services from Windows Live and Office recently, so at the moment I have a few gigs of storage on office live, a few gigs of storage on Windows Live Skydrive and now a few gigs on Windows Live Mesh. What mesh gives me over these services is the device synchronisation.
If you are anything like me, you will have a work PC which does the job for you - whether a developer specification machine or something that project managers can hack spreadsheets with. From time to time you end up taking work home, so it either gets emailed or stuck on a USB key (now that floppy disc drives don't even come as an option). But inevitably the usb key gets left at one end or the other of your commute (safely I must hasten to add), or you forget to email it - not impossible to work round but tricky. The reverse is also true, I stick ideas and all sorts of daft stuff in word documents and spreadsheets and the inspiration doesn't necessarily hit me in a consistent place.
What you and I can do with Mesh is to have a set of folders in my mesh, which I selectively synchronise to the devices which are members of the mesh. I can decide which folders have local copies on each device and which are left. I must admit up till recently I had all of the few folders I have synchronised between my personal PC at home (solely used by me) and my work laptop (generally just used by me). But recently I added in my old PC, which my son uses, and now my HTC Diamond since the mobile client was updated recently. I would have added my personal powerbook, but support for mac is only offered for intel machines. So to try the technology at Tech Ed, I have added the photos folder from my mobile phone to the mesh and I have been taking photographs of each session I attend to add to my blog entries. I take the picture, log on to the conference wifi and tell mesh to synchronise. Then I can lift the picture straight in to the blog entry for that session.
Another feature I haven't mentioned is the ability to do a "remote desktop" to machines that are on the mesh. As mesh is installed as a service, once the machine is on (and if the user on the machine permits) you can connect to the machine "as if you were there". This is really handy to access my PC at home and download emails into Microsoft Outlook as one example. To enable this, I have also set the BIOS in my PC to start itself up at a set time every day. So I can log in through mesh once the PC is on, check things over and then switch it off for the next day.
The Beta has been running for a while, and functionally stable - the only hassle being that my home firewall has to be reset to allow the correct ports each time the client updates - which has been quite regular of late. Of course, this is all convenient for me, and it could raise questions in your mind about privacy and data protection so I have thereby been quite cautious about the sorts of files I place in the mesh. I would also say at this stage that I struggle to think of appropriate business use of the technology, but from an individual with interest in a number of different machines it has been really useful.