Microsoft Live Mesh: too late?

I wrote about some of the current cloud computing landscape recently and today I again stared down my beta invitation email to the Microsoft Live Mesh service. I had stared at this email previously but today I approached it from the standpoint of trying to find a reason for myself to use it.

I went to their page to "learn more" and tried to figure out what files I might share (file sharing is the first "experience" available for "the mesh"). My thoughts went thusly:

  1. I could share work files on my home computer.
    First, I have a laptop (so I bring my work files along with me home a lot). Also, most of the time I keep my work thoughts & time on my work computer. Further, lots of my technical files require software that I don't have on my home computer - I could change this, but I have no desire to.
  2. I could share home files on my work computer.
    What files? I have a mere 10GB on my home computer (I know because my computer is currently munching on them in the background - implementing EFS for security - I'm piloting it before implementing it at work & for personal data). My personal documents are in the cloud already (thx, Google Docs), my email is all in the cloud (again, GMail - and some use of Windows Hotmail Live Mail Beta Microsoft 2 System Program [or whatever today's name is for it what I think of simply as "hotmail"]).
    And, up to now, I have never had a desire to have that 10GB at work.
  3. I could share photos.
    Flickr. I finally took the "Pro" plunge and, while I haven't yet uploaded our stash of photos (for lack of a strategy), I love the way it works. Unlimited storage, viewing on the web (and therefore from any computer and many other devices), it auto-resizes as needed, allows tagging, geotagging...
    Basically, Flickr is better because it is meant for photos. On the other hand, Flickr is bad at sharing music - bad to the point of not allowing it.
    This is the very definition of a niche, isn't it? "So why have 'general' services at all?", I wondered.
  4. Music!
    Occasionally, I'll transfer portions of my music library to my work computer. I don't generally listen to music at work, but I occasionally enjoy it. And transferring is slow and painful.
    Live Mesh could help here.

Why have "general" services at all?

In my above example, the general service is useful as a stop-gap until a niche service is available. If there existed a "" (rockr? harmonizr?) then using Live Mesh to synchronize my music wouldn't be interesting. I'd probably be able to synchronize my music, buy new music, play music through the web, share audio snippets with friends, and many other features with Tunr.

This fact: that niche is better than general for software is why Live Mesh is so interesting.

"What?!" you say, "You just said niche is better and Live Mesh isn't a niche."

True. But, Live Mesh isn't a music service either. Or a file sharing service.

Is Windows good at playing music? No. Is Windows good at storing music? Sure. It'll keep versions, encrypt it, manage different formats of music... Because it calls it a "file." In other words: because it treats it generally. BUT, Windows will allow you to use that file as music in conjunction with a music program. You can use niche software with the general software. AKA, Windows is a platform. And Live Mesh is a platform too.

So, will I use Live Mesh to synchronize music? Maybe.

Is Live Mesh good at synchronizing music? It's ok: music is just files to Live Mesh.

Can someone create a good music-niche application on top of Live Mesh? Not yet, but that's the plan.

Saturday, June 28, 2008, 12:00 AM

tagged: microsoft, music, cloudcomputing, livemesh, niches