Thursday, June 12, 2008

Live Mesh, Office Live Workspaces and a wish list!

I've been playing around with Live Mesh lately as I spend a lot of time on my laptop and a lot of files that I need are stored on my desktop. It's turned into such a valuable tool that, at the moment, it's relegated my various USB fobs to being mini-paperweights on my desk at home.

I've also been playing around, less so, with the Office Live Workspaces stuff and the Office Live Add-In (which annoyingly only works with Word, Excel and PowerPoint - why no Visio or Project yet?). Granted, Office Live Workspaces allows me to add notes, lists and events (to name but a few) but it would be nice if there was a Live Mesh add-in that performed the same function as the Office Live Add-In? I'd quite like to be able to access my Live Desktop from Mesh directly in Word - it would make remote working that little bit easier. At the moment every folder I'd like to use I have to put on the machine I'm working on and synchronise the folder - if I only want a single document then it doesn't strike me as sensible to have to get the entire folder down? Yes I can go to the Live Mesh site and get the document I require from the folder but it has to be easier than that?

This also got me onto thinking about Apple's MobileMe and the way that I'd like Live Mesh to move forward. Sort of my "wish list" of what I want.

On my desktop at home I use Outlook and download mail from several accounts into the one place using POP3. When remote working I get the accounts that I need (which is actually just the one) into Windows Live Mail using IMAP which allows me to keep all my mail in one place (I can copy sent messages into the IMAP Inbox and when downloaded by Outlook I have a rule that moves them in the Sent Messages folder correctly). I should probably keep everything in the cloud but I'm still not sure whether I can trust the cloud all that well. This works for me and I can handle using mail this way - it's probably not the best way to do this but it works.

The one thing that I do miss is my contacts and my calendar.

I've got my calendar usable with Google Calendar (and a plug-in to Outlook) but surely these could at least be synched from Outlook? There's a Windows Live Calendar service that could be added to the Live Mesh family and then used to sync from Outlook. There's no calendar in Windows Live Mail yet but with Microsoft's push to Windows + Live then this would perhaps be the logical next step.

And as both Outlook and Windows Live Mail have contacts why not sync those two and add a Live Contacts type application to Live Mesh. A new "Windows Live Contacts" service to sync from Outlook would suit me perfectly - I could store all my contacts in the cloud and sync them down to both Outlook and Windows Live Mail. Even just a sync from Outlook would work!

So a convergence of Office Live Workspaces and Live Mesh, along with some of the others - Windows Live Calendar and my new "Windows Live Contacts" would seem a pretty good starting point. After all mobile is one of the devices "coming soon" in Live Mesh so doesn't it make sense to sync everything between the desktop and a mobile device (contacts, calendar, tasks, etc.) Isn't this what MobileMe launched at Apple's WWDC going to allow to the iPhone? And if you're synching desktop to mobile what stops desktop to desktop for things other than just files?

The Microsoft entry into the entire cloud computing space with Live Mesh comes across as a pretty good start but seems to be very disconnected - there's Office Live Workspaces, FolderShare, Groove, SkyDrive that all cross over with Live Mesh in one way or another. And not to mention all the other bits and pieces that are "in beta". There's, as yet, no grand vision for what is coming nor any pointers as to even hinting at a roadmap of what is coming. With MobileMe it looks as though Apple have just jumped ahead of where Live Mesh is and provided most of my wish list immediately - I'm just not prepared to pay $100 a year to try it out!

No comments: