Let's say you sit on a design team at Microsoft. Let's say that you want to help IT folks on the road move their data into and out of the cloud. So you start by offering branded cloud storage that works with all Microsoft products, right?
[ Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]
In yet another demonstration of how to confuse customers in droves, Microsoft has released details about its cloud-based synchronizing capability, now christened Windows Live Mesh. To understand the confusion, it helps if you know the history.
The new Windows Live Mesh represents a mashup of two older products: Windows Live Sync (formerly known as FolderShare) and Live Mesh (which grew from Ray Ozzie's FeedSync).
Windows Live Sync runs on Windows XP and Mac OS X systems and later. Part of Windows 7's Live Essentials, it emphasizes synchronizing files across computers, sharing files with other people, and getting at your files remotely from any computer connected to the Internet. As you make changes to files in a synced folder, Windows Live Sync changes those files on any other connected computer that has permission to use the folder. Windows Live Photo Gallery tied directly into Windows Live Sync.
Live Mesh took a different approach. Like Live Sync, it runs on Windows XP and Mac OS X systems and later, but it also runs on Windows Mobile 6. It has a remote desktop capability, which lets you use any Internet-connected computer to log on to a Mesh computer or phone and control it. Unlike Sync, Live Mesh is firmly based in the cloud: You can log on to the Mesh website and access your synchornized data. Perhaps most significantly, Live Mesh has an API, so developers can write programs that (at least in theory) take advantage of the Mesh capabilities.