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Live Mesh

Penton's vaunted Web publishing system is hosed this morning, meaning I can't publish my WinInfo article about Live Mesh yet. But this is important. So I'm going to post it here (unedited) for now and then mention a few changes I see coming for this site as a result.

With Live Mesh, Microsoft Firmly Embraces Cloud Computing
Microsoft on Tuesday announced it was finally embracing a growing trend called "cloud computing," where users increasing access software and services online rather than via software that is installed locally on their PCs. Through a new initiative called Live Mesh, Microsoft will for the first time migrate its major computing platform off of the PC desktop and into the Internet cloud.

"This new software-plus-services platform enables PCs and other devices to 'come alive' by making them aware of each other through the Internet," Amit Mital, general manager of Microsoft's Live Mesh efforts wrote in a corporate blog. "Our goal is to provide a 'just works' experience by making it much easier to access the information, applications, people, and devices you care about."

This initial version of Live Mesh is currently in a closed beta aimed at developers but will be opened up to the public later in the year, Mital says. It will attempt to provide four key services: Device interoperability; anywhere access to files, folders, and programs; simple sharing and interaction with others, and automated updates. While none of this sounds particularly revolutionary, remember that this platform exists in the cloud, not on a PC desktop. Central management of devices and applications online, for example, is unexplored territory for Microsoft and its customers.

The first developer-oriented beta of Live Mesh includes a number of low-level technologies that will both form the basis for the entire platform and enable programmers to create unique solutions of their own. From a foundational perspective, Live Mesh includes programmatic access to core services such as (online and offline) Storage, Membership, Sync, Peer-to-Peer Communication and Newsfeed. And the programming model is identical between desktop-based, device-based, and cloud-based Mesh solutions, meaning that a single Live Mesh application will run identically on any supported hardware platform.

I'll be writing more about Live Mesh in the coming days on the SuperSite for Windows. This is an important service that could one day evolve into Microsoft's core business model.

So this is huge.

First, a couple of relevant links:

Live Mesh Tech Preview
Introducing Live Mesh - Windows Live Dev blog post
Live Mesh Blog
Ray Ozzie: Introducing Live Mesh (Channel 9 video) 
Live Mesh screenshots
Live Mesh videos (require Silverlight):

Platform experience quick tour
Platform quick tour for developers
Overview of Live Mesh architecture
Overview of Live Mesh platform experience

Now for the site stuff. I've been planning recently to remove the Xbox 360 link on the mail SuperSite and replace it, probably with a Windows 7 link. (Eventually, the site is going to move to an organizational model based on topics like "Windows 7" and "Office" rather than the current layout--Reviews, Showcases, etc.--but that has to wait for the conversion to Community Server. I'm going to keep blogging about video games and will write something like one short review a month. But it's not core to the site.) It's pretty clear to me now that, given the limited space for "activity center"-type links on the toolbar--i.e. I'm probably pushing it trying to go above 2--those two links should be "Windows" and "Cloud computing." The Windows link will push to a much updated version of the current Windows Vista activity center that will include Windows 7, Vista/SP1, Server, and, yes, XP SP3, hopefully with a useful layout and presentation. The cloud computing activity center will be new. But I write so much about cloud computing these days, and cloud computing is so clearly the future, even for Microsoft. It's time.

(By the way, if I had to choose a third representative activity center, it would be something like "Digital media." I may still go that route, but this is the one thing I'm unsure of.)

I don't know when/how this will happen, but it's going to happen. Unfortunately, the next couple of days are hugely busy between the regular work, some meetings, the podcast, and the kid's school vacation this week. But there's nothing like a sudden bit of clarity.

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