Applications, coming soon to a Mesh near you

If you think Live Mesh is just about syncing some TPS reports across a couple of computers and maybe a mobile phone or two then you’re a very narrow-minded person.

Bit and pieces of information about what else Mesh can do has been scattered around various Channel9 videos like this one with Ori Amiga all the way back in April, but I wanted to see where they’re at now so I lurked around the Live Mesh booth last week at the Microsoft TechEd Australia conference.

Fortunately my good charms paid off when Angus Logan – Senior Technical Program Manager for Windows Live Platform – gave me a quick but satisfying peek into the world of applications running on the Live Mesh platform coming soon to both end-users and developers.

Please bear in mind any of the following is subject to change and your mileage may vary.

As you can see from the above screenshots, the same demo Mesh application “Tracker” – a simple to-do list app can be run from both the Mesh desktop in the browser and on the actual Windows desktop as a (sort of) real application. To achieve this run-everywhere application experience, the Mesh apps on the desktop actually run inside a chromeless Internet Explorer wrapper provided by the Mesh Operating Environment (version 0.9.3104.1 for those of you playing at home). Ignore the bug with the Mesh panel on the desktop thinking it’s a folder.

Not only can you have the same application run in multiple devices and even just inside a web browser, it also syncs data across all devices autonomously thanks to the underlying Mesh framework. Furthermore even if the network is unavailable, due of the way Mesh manages data, the application’s data and the application itself will still be available with the latest version of the data it was able to sync.

Now obviously a to-do list application is a pretty straightforward example of where synchronicity might be useful, but imagine where this could go. Having heard some people talk about just how difficult it is to move a music library from one computer to another, imagine storing your entire music collection on Mesh and managing it with a Mesh application allowing you to enjoy and manipulate the same library and playlists across all devices wherever you are, even if you’re at a friends’ house with just a browser.

For the programming-minded amongst us who can’t wait to get their hands dirty, then keep your eyes locked on Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in late October where the Live Mesh SDK should be making an appearance.

32 insightful thoughts

  1. Unfortunately that happened quite often at TechEd this year:
    “Can’t talk about it just yet… wait for all the cool stuff we’re going to show at PDC!”

  2. Seen it coming, as they mentioned this, but nice to see a possible approach on how they did it.
    As per the other comments: Something positive about PDC!

  3. i have seen other apps. and i have no doubt you have seen other Long. nice of Angus to allow the disclosure of this one. cannot wait to see what materializes in PDC. my best guess is that even if they don`t put the sdk out. they should show something. the windows version should jump to beta and updated , the mac beta should be unleashed along the windows mobile version or get a official date of release for the respective betas. i don`t think we could see more than that. and that alone would be of course huge.

  4. The Mesh SDK is already available… but obviously it’s in a state of flux due to the beta status of Mesh itself. On would expect to at least see the Microsoft client beta’s first and then non-Microsoft beta’s afterwards :-) well, thats what I would do in Microsoft’s shoes :-)

  5. I think this is what Microsoft fails to get across when it comes to the power of Mesh, it’s bringing the desktop paradigm of having a single set of files (pictures, movies, text, etc.) and then installing applications to interact with said data.

    The internet right now is like the PC space way back when. You have your Facebook silo, your myspace silo, last.fm, etc.

  6. This is what annoys me about the constant “Chrome is the next OS / Microsoft is dead coz of the internet / Microsoft is a big dumb company who have absolutely nothing in place for a cloud computing future”

    I can’t think of anything worse then using browser applications for everything… However if I can use desktops applications which synchronize data into the cloud and can be accessed from the browser + other computers along with the applications themselves THATs pretty damn exciting and impressive.

    Oh but it’s Microsoft and they suck.

    Thanks for sharing Long =) what do you have to do for these exclusives? ;)

  7. “We’re going to hear a LOT of “cool stuff” information at the PDC!!”

    pfff I haven’t seen or heard of any cool stuff coming out of mircosoft ever, everything you here is going to be ‘cool’ turns out to be shit in the way only microsoft could possibly fuck up.

  8. No, no, no. I’m worried about technologies like this. Adding more plugins is not the way to go when it comes to the web as a platform. Just like when Microsoft ‘disposed of’ Netscape by locking sites to use IE’s lack of standards support, they’re trying to re-establish Windows and IE dominance by making applications like this that require plug-ins.

    The fact is that you don’t need any of this. Using web standards can deliver desktop-class applications.

    I’d expect Google to do something about this. They’re not going to let it take traction. Thought Flash proliferation was bad for Google? This is going to be a lot worse – and it won’t just hit them, it’ll hit Apple as well.

  9. Karl, you are sorely mistaken if you think Google’s chrome will be kind to standards. They have acknowledged that they have reached the limits of HTML and Javascript and thus needed to really break away from that model if they were to build the next generation of applications.

    Chrome will be a launching pad of there assult on standards, true that they will continue to build things in javascript and HTML BUT if you think they will stick to these standards your deluding yourself. They will, at the drop of a hat, incorporate there own proprietary extensions to these standards to meet there needs. Chrome provides the perfect vehicle to do this!!!

    Standards were invented for third world countries to help companies going over there to aid in there westernization. The rest of the world just adopted these standards because just like the environmental movement we wanted to show the world that we played nice with our brothers. In reality Standards are slow moving beasts that hold back innovative companies from differentiating themselves via technology.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with John about his views on Chrome. I’m enitrely agreeable with John’s views on ‘standards’ although I do feel they are holding back innovation quite a bit.

    I always have a laugh when people moan about Microsoft “locking people into” IE… it all has to be put into context of when the first couple of Netscape’s and IE’s were released AND what was happening “to the internet” at the time. Microsoft never *LOCKED* people into using IE… IE had a number of better features and ‘extra’ features that Netscape didn’t have.

    People only complain about Microsoft’s IE “not following standards” IF they weren’t around at the time, were not being a web developer at the time, etc.. if someone was around at the time, they would understand “those web standards” were NOT standards – otherthan BASIC HTML.

    As John says, we are at the limits of those web standards… why else has the use of JavaScript, AJAX, etc taken off so much?? Shall I mention Google’s own Gears “add-on”… they do not follow “web standards” because there are no web standards for them… thus Live Mesh is in the same boat as Gears – except LM is a much larger canvas to work with.

  11. Quote Josh
    “I can’t think of anything worse then using browser applications for everything”
    Reply:
    ….so true…so true …. the internet is not big because of HTML/Javascrip/AJAX – it’s big because of device/data interconnection… HJA (HTML/ JavaScript/AJAX) (HJA coined here first folks) – is just as lame now as
    it was in ’95 in approaching OS GUI – of couse we could all go back to plain book pages – and eliminate the sat evening wireless (30’s radio) shows and no more talkies either…

    Quote Karl:
    “…Using web standards can deliver desktop-class applications.”
    Reply: …groan – give me a break –

    Desktop-class app experiment #1 using web standards –

    Remove all plugins (that includes your images and media movies)
    What kind of high class desktop application platform do you have left Karl ?

    Continuing on – Desktop-class app experiment #2 using web standards

    a.) build a HTML page and the only thing in the body is the number “1”
    b.) now rotate (not move) it by 1 degree using web standards ( either way – your choice)
    c.) get back to me when you achieve it

    Finally – John Mitas and Glen –
    Quote : all of what you said

    Reply – big fist tap !!!

  12. We have some interesting examples of how Live Mesh could (and should) have been literally a life-saver during the recent monsoons in Myanmar, the earthquakes in central China, an epidemic in Albania and so on.
    With some focus excerpts of this material would make a dramatic addition to the PDC. Have you any contacts on the Live Mesh team?

  13. “…Having heard some people talk about just how difficult it is to move a music library from one computer to another, imagine storing your entire music collection on Mesh…”

    Thanks, but no thanks!

    I shiver by the thought of putting my entire lossless music collection which I paid dearly for “online” on some “cloud” and allow a big corp (whichever) to have full control of it.

    :)

    Never… not in this life.

  14. @heh: It doesn’t have to be online, it would just be in your “Mesh”. Mesh can work without storing any of your data on the online storage component known as “Live Desktop”. That way Mesh just makes sure your music library and music collection is available wherever you want it to be.

  15. So what are these applications written in? I guess you can’t use native Win32 or .NET code since it’s supposed to run anywhere. Will it at least be Silverlight 2.0, or are we stuck with HTML/javascript to write these applications? Because that would be pretty awful.

  16. @Frank: If you want your applications to be on the “Live Desktop” experience as well, that is where you can view your files with a browser, then you’ll need to write it in HTML and Javascript (presumably, more details at PDC).

    Otherwise the SDK will also allow you to write Mesh-enabled applications on other platforms such as .NET or Silverlight if you want to deploy your application otherwise.

  17. To Peter F. Zoll – Amit Mital is the GM Live Mesh at Microsoft and he gave the keynote at TechEd Sydney recently and he also gave out his email address for people that have problems, ideas, feedback om Mesh etc – amitm@microsoft.com

    I hope this helps!

  18. As someone who has spent years developing AJAX web applications for a living, I can tell you that the web is completely incapable of delivering desktop-class applications.

    AJAX was one step forward in reach (reach being the number of users that can be targeted by an application) and 10 steps backwards in ease of use, performance, ease of development, maintainability and architecture. MS, Google, Apple and Adobe know this, which explains why they are all so eager to create their own plugin/framework that runs on the browser and over the web.

    This could, in theory, become the new desktop OS (or more like application platform) and the one who dominates that area has the chance of becoming the new Microsoft (or, in Microsoft’s case, remaining as Microsoft). While MS is not the first to release their browser plugin (Silverlight/Mesh), they are way ahead of the game because the .NET Framework was ultimately made to be portable if necessary.

    Should MS lose its desktop domination to the browser, you can expect the .NET Framework to start shipping as a plugin for existing browsers across various OSes. Heck, Silverlight 2 is little more than a subset of .NET 3.5 that runs on the browser.

  19. Pingback: Mesh me up!
  20. Hi All

    I have read about Windows Azure, .NET Data Services and SQL Server Data Services.

    I have also read about Cloud Computing in general.

    A few questions for Microsoft guys concerned with Cloud computing.

    While I was able to write regarding SQL Server Data Services and .NET Services why isnt that Microsoft is providing HOL and Sample walkthroughs for other excellent technologies and products such as CRM, Exchange, WMI, ADSI

    For example since I know WMI, COM and C++ on my home computer I can write applications to query WMI for WinXP SP2 but one of the limitations is that I cant write applications for other server range of O/S’s from Microsoft.

    I know through Cloud computing that would definitely be possible.

    Also one of the other things I have noticed is that while I am able to write programs for SQL Server Data Services and .NET Services why am i not able to do with Windows Azure and Live suite of products.

  21. I have observed that Windows Azure would definitely dont work with WinXP SP2.At the minimum it required Windows Vista.
    This is a huge shortcoming in the sense that when I am able to write programs and create Authorities, Containers and Entities for Sql Server Data Services using WinXP SP2 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 on my home system why isnt that I am able to do the same with Windows Azure.
    Therefore Microsoft should release more products such as Microsoft Exchange and Micrsoft CRM so that developers can learn and write good programs for CRM without actually installing the software on his/her machine which is time consuming.

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