Dropbox bridges gaps in Microsoft's mobile sync

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is coming, but Windows Live Mesh won't talk to it. Enter the San Francisco startup Dropbox

My last Tech Watch post talked about the sorry state of Windows Live Mesh, the sync-and-more utility designed to help folks on the go get their data into and out of the cloud.

With Windows Phone 7 now officially released to manufacturing -- soon to appear on chic and pricey handsets near you -- one might think that Live Mesh would be able to talk with your new phone. Not so. Mesh competitor Dropbox, a small upstart company in San Francisco, stands ready to munch Microsoft's mobile lunch.

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As I explained in that previous post, Windows Live Mesh grew out of a Microsoft product called Live Mesh, which worked on Windows 7, Vista, XP, various Mac OSes, and Windows Mobile 6.x. When the 'Softies mashed Live Mesh with another product called Windows Live Sync to create Windows Live Mesh, the new product dropped both Windows XP and Windows Mobile support.

Now Microsoft's in the embarrassing position of having a new mobile OS, Windows Phone 7, with no direct sync through the Microsoft cloud.

Where Microsoft sees problems, an upstart company called Dropbox sees opportunity. Many of the road warriors I know who live and die by cloud-stored data swear that Dropbox runs rings around anything Microsoft's ever created. Dropbox has all of the sync and share features you would expect, with 2GB of free online storage and 30 days of "undo" history so that you can retrieve older versions of a file.

You get online accees via a Web browser, offline operation that syncs when the Internet connection's restored, and a Public folder that anyone can access. Best of all, Dropbox works with Windows XP and all other modern versions of Windows, Mac OS X Tiger, or newer, Linux (Ubuntu 7.10+ or Fedora Core 9+), with native applications for iPhone, iPad, and Android, as well as native BlackBerry support now in its fourth beta relase.

Ruttensoft, the company that made the CloudFiles application for Dropbox on WM6, has posted a video of what it's already implemented for Windows Phone 7. Windows mobile developer Olly Levitt (better known as l3v5y to insiders) blogs that he has WP7DropBox in the works.

The race is afoot. Can Microsoft get a Mesh-savvy mobile sync program on the street before Dropbox and its legion of WP7-toting fans? I wouldn't count on it. Even if Microsoft does get something out the door, it won't sync with Windows XP.

Sounds like a good time to root for the upstart.

This article, "Dropbox bridges gaps in Microsoft's mobile sync," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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