Microsoft kills off one of their most useful and innovative products.
Today, Microsoft announced yet another reshuffle of their online services. ‘Windows Live’ is dead, now to be known by the names for individual services.
According to Microsoft, and duly parroted elsewhere, Live Mesh is being ‘replaced’ by Skydrive. But that’s total bollocks. Skydrive is a poor substitute for Live Mesh. It’s like saying a bicycle is a total replacement for your car.
Microsoft has a page “Skydrive for Mesh users” which must have sorely taxed the abilities of even Redmond’s creative writing experts. They had to put a positive spin on a bad situation while avoiding mention of the many losses for customers.
Check out this table of Live Mesh features and how to get it on Skydrive. Please try to restrain your laughter and indignation:
The left column omits most of the Live Mesh features entirely and even when mentioned they are carefully worded to bypass the greater abilities. For example both products can indeed ‘Access files on a PC when you’re away’ but Live Mesh does that by giving you full access to the remote computer (via Remote Desktop technology) while Skydrive merely lets you copy files from the remote computer. The table mentions IE settings but nothing about Office settings.
What Microsoft customers have lost and were missing from Microsoft’s table:
- Peer to Peer synchronization – in effect making your own cloud storage without involving Microsoft’s servers.
- Unlimited synchronization space without cloud limits
- Sync a single file up to 40GB (Skydrive’s max is 2GB)
- Syncing folders of your choice
- See status of synchronization in progress
- Sync hidden files
- Remote Access to another computer
- Sync of Internet Explorer settings across computers
- Sync of some Microsoft Office settings between computers (dictionaries,Outlookemail signatures, styles and templates)
There’s also features that have been removed from Live Mesh as Microsoft gradually emasculates the product. Live Mesh did have the ability to only sync recent files, younger than 30 or 60 days. This let you have an automatic cloud backup of recent documents without worrying about the larger combined size of older files.
Under the hood, Live Mesh is a better technology. It was based around the idea of ‘feeds’ similar to RSS feeds we use for news but a lot more complicated and powerful. This concept meant there was the ability for developers to make programs that made use of the online storage – for example the IE and Office teams could save/get settings. Other clever uses of this technology were killed before they reached the public.
It also made Live Mesh more easily deployed to multiple systems (which is one reason why Microsoft execs hated Live Mesh – it wasn’t sufficiently locked into Windows).
Anyone who thinks that Microsoft acts in the best interests of their customers has only to look at the demise of Live Mesh. A good and useful system that was buried by Microsoft’s greed and broader corporate strategy.