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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Live Mesh Keeping your World in Sync

Microsoft Live Mesh Keeping your World in Sync

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Microsoft released a technology preview of their Windows Live Mesh service designed to connect and synchronize devices, folders and news.  The details from Microsoft include giving users of PCs, Macs and Mobile phones access to their information from anywhere. 

Live Mesh for Everyone

Live Mesh is for people who need to share information across their many devices and will be available at home, work or on the road.  The Live Mesh client is installed on each device and folders to be shared are installed on the central Mesh, making them synchronized and always where you need them.  Accessing the synchronized information is available from anywhere, including the web.  Initially, the Live Mesh Desktop will support 5GB of free storage.

Today's uses for Live Mesh will include sharing photos with friends, simply inviting them to share a folder.  The shared folder allows updating documents, giving comments and sending instant messages all from within the folder.  Watch a video of how devices work together.

It's important to understand simple sharing of a folder and synchronizing between devices is only a demonstration of the capabilities and power of Live Mesh.  John Udell interviewed Ray Ozzie where he introduces Live Mesh and talks about its history, where it is today and its future:

Although the most visible Live Mesh application is a file-and-folder synchronizer, Ray notes that this is just one example of an application pattern that can apply equally to the synchronization of custom objects, like calendar events, across all the devices in a mesh. It also applies across the spectrum of application types, ranging from the browser to conventional rich clients to Web-based rich clients like Flash and Silverlight.

John also explains how Live Mesh can be used in a less obvious way as a communication pipeline for a web site communicating with its users:

There’s another pattern for Live Mesh applications, one that’s less familiar. In this pattern, a website uses Live Mesh as a pipeline to communicate with Live Mesh users. If you’re running a travel site, or a bank, you can use that pipeline to transmit structured data to your users — for example, itineraries or transaction reports. It’s easy to create those XML feeds, you can leverage the Live Mesh infrastructure to deliver them securely and reliably at scale, they synchronize across all devices in each user’s Live Mesh, and they’re accessible to local applications using same RESTful feed APIs that were used to create them.

Live Mesh for Developers

One of the main focuses of Live Mesh is as a platform for developers to build applications to take full-advantage of all of the services provided by Live Mesh.  There will be a Live Mesh SDK that will enable developers to build applications that:

  • Use the Live Mesh sync service to synchronize files, data, and applications across all the devices in a user's mesh—even in scenarios where devices are only occasionally connected to the service.
  • Use the Live Mesh member service to provide file- and data-sharing experiences to anyone.
  • Extend the Live Desktop experience to deliver applications that are accessible from anywhere.
  • Plug in to the Live Mesh news feed system to generate notifications for key activities in your application.

The Windows Live Dev team's guiding principles for the platform are:

  • Services Are the Core of the Platform – the Live Mesh platform exposes a number of core services including some Live Services that can all be accessed using the Live Mesh API; these include Storage (online and offline), Membership, Sync, Peer-to-Peer Communication and Newsfeed.
  • Same API on Clients and in the Cloud – the programming model is the same for the cloud and all connected devices, which means a Live Mesh application works exactly the same regardless of whether it’s running in the cloud, in a browser, on a desktop, or on a mobile device.
  • Open, Extendable Data Model – a basic data model is provided for the most common tasks needed for a Live Mesh application; developers can also customize and extend the data model in any fashion that is needed for a specific application.
  • Flexible Application Model – developers can choose what application developer model best fits their needs.

The Live Mesh developer program currently has a waiting list and anyone can get on it.  A demo of the SDK can be seen on the Live Mesh web site giving developers preview of what they can expect.

More information about Microsoft Live Mesh can be found on the Live Mesh web site and the official information coming from the Windows Live Dev team can be found on their web site.

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