While I agree with part of Joel Spolsky's take on Live Mesh, overall it's pretty clear he just doesn't get it:
Ray Ozzie's big achievement arrives and what is it? (drumroll...) Microsoft Live Mesh. The future of everything. Microsoft is "moving into the cloud."
And what is this Windows Live Mesh?
It's a way to synchronize files.
But Windows Live Mesh is not just a way to synchronize files. That's just the sample app. It's a whole goddamned architecture, with an API and developer tools and in insane diagram showing all the nifty layers of acronyms, and it seems like the chief astronauts at Microsoft literally expect this to be their gigantic platform in the sky which will take over when Windows becomes irrelevant on the desktop. And synchronizing files is supposed to be, like, the equivalent of Microsoft Write on Windows 1.0.
Which it is. Anyway...
It's Groove, rewritten from scratch, one more time. Ray Ozzie just can't stop rewriting this damn app, again and again and again, and taking 5-7 years each time.
This I agree with. As Leo and I discussed with Mary Jo Foley on "Windows Weekly" today, Ozzie does seem to be revisiting the past a bit here.
But if you really believe that Live Mesh folder sync is indeed a rehashing of Groove, and Notes, and whatever else Ozzie has done in the past, I'd at least point out this one salient fact: Live Mesh folder sync is, as he says above, just a tiny, single application running on top of the Live Mesh platform. So what Ozzie has done, using Splotsky's logic, is recreate Groove ... as the smallest freaking applet running on the new platform he's creating. That's far more impressive than this little junior high school rant is making it sound.
The fact that customers never asked for this feature and none of the earlier versions really took off as huge platforms doesn't stop him.
Yawn. No one was "asking for" the iPod either, a product that, by the way, simply copied liberally from what came before.
Having actually used Live Mesh--no offense--I can say that the services first two features--folder sync and remote desktop--aren't just useful, they're pretty darn critical. They're already part of my daily workflow. I wasn't asking for either one either, exactly. But now that they're here, I don't want them taken away. That's how you can tell how useful and valuable something is.
How on earth does Microsoft continue to pour massive resources into building the same frigging synchronization platforms again and again? Damn, they just finished building something called Windows Live FolderShare and I haven't exactly noticed a stampede to that. I'll bet you've never even heard of it.
The reason you've never heard of it is that, a) Microsoft hasn't "finished building" FolderShare and that, b) it's still in beta. It is, in fact, the basis for the folder sync feature in Live Mesh. Hey, turns out you have heard of it. But you're the expert.
Here's my favorite part.
It sort of bothers me, intellectually, that there are these people running around acting like they're building the next great thing who keep serving us the same exact TV dinner that I didn't want on Sunday night, and I didn't want it when you tried to serve it again Monday night, and you crunched it up and mixed in some cheese and I didn't eat that Tuesday night, and here it is Wednesday and you've rebuilt the whole goddamn TV dinner industry from the ground up and you're giving me 1955 salisbury steak that I just DON'T WANT.
The people? They love twitter. And flickr and delicious and picasa and tripit and ebay and a million other fun things...
Really? Is that what "the people" love? Twitter? Tripit? Come on.
For those keeping score at home, the goal of Live Mesh is to bring together heterogeneous devices and services in a way that makes sense for users. Why maintain different personas on a hundred different social networking sites, e-commerce sites, online photo albums, and other Web sites? Why maintain different contact lists, different ways of accessing the same information? Etc.
Sounds like something a lot of people might want. Even if they haven't heard of it. Yet.