With the introduction of Live Mesh the Cat is out of the Bag, Microsoft is making one more try at corralling the Web to its own ends – and the leader of the drive is none other than Ray Ozzie. So much for Open from the bottom up at Microsoft.
First, a quick set of history lessons on Microsofts attempts to makeover the Web to its own ends. Try 1- Windows 95 and MSN way back when(Summer 1995). On introducing Windows 95 Microsoft also launched its own rival internet network service similar to AOL. But MSN at first did not offer World Wide Web connectivity – but that changed quickly:
“Open access to the World Wide Web was not originally included in the classic MSN service, but Internet access was offered through Microsofts Internet Explorer web browser, which was available as a download from the MSN service or as part of the Windows 95 Plus! package.”
With Netscape and IE quickly locked in battle for full WWW access, MSN had to open itself up to access, through IE to anybodys Web based services. And MSN quickly became a free service and the fate of AOL and Compuserve was determined.
Try 2 – Internet Explorer gains 90%++ market share and deposes Netscape. Microsoft does this by charging nothing for both its browser and IIS Server “for perpetuity”. This effectively cuts off the oxygen to Netscape since most of Netscapes revenues are from its server and browser. Users cannot find for the past 4-6 years a free copy of the latest IIS anywhere on Microsofts websites. But maybe “for perpetuity”, in the case of IIS, only lasts until Microsoft had to pay AOL/Netscape $1.2-1.6 Billion dollars as settlement of its anti-trust litigation.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Web harnessed to the Windows desktop – Google, Web 2.0, and the Firefox browser. Web 2.0 showed that GUI convenience equal to or better than the desktop could be produced over the Web. Then it quickly proved that security, speed of operation, and SaaS operational convenience could also be delivered over the WEb. Then Flickr, MySpace, You Tube, FaceBook, Saleforce.com and many others happened in quick succession.
Try 3 – Live Mesh. Now what Microsoft is doing is extending the Silverlight ploy to a broader arena of Web Services. What is the Silverlight ploy ? Silverlight is Microsofts replacement for Adobe Flash. Technically its is better in some respects from the designer viewpoint; but much weaker from the runtime and cross-platform angle. Microsoft is trying to create a Flash/Media Rich world in which it dictates standards without having won the 90%++ market share from Adobes Flash. Ditto for Live Mesh. The promise from Redmond is to be somewhat crossplatform. Thus like Silverlight, LiveMesh will work in Vista and XP but all other OS will hvae to wait for Microsoft to deliver. In return for “free” 5GB of file exchange space plus having the latest Microsoft Web software bundles including some sophisticated synchronization features, users have to accept
the proprietary Windows or runs-best-in-Windows services and extensions.
Now read what Microsft Watchs Joe Wilcox has to say about Live Mesh. No holds barred – “But simply: Microsoft is launching a synchronization platform that the company claims is technology-agnostic. That absolutely is not true. Live Mesh is Microsofts attempt to turn operating system and proprietary services platforms into hubs that replace the Web”.
Or try the Phones people: “Initially Microsoft Live Mesh is to be offered to Windows XP and Vista operating system users however will be broadened to encompass Mac and other platforms in the future.”
Or try the last Podcast: “One thing you need to keep in mind here is that Live Mesh is part of an extensive online platform play by Microsoft that might, in the future, integrate Mesh with a more complete online desktop and file editing capabilities.”
Webware gets the last words:“Our recommendation: If youre currently using another file or folder synchronization product, stand pat. Live Mesh is too rough around the edges. In addition to the user interface issues, I found that during initial sync it dragged my systems performance down a lot. I would hope performance improves as Microsoft inches toward a public release of Mesh. But we are talking Microsoft here, so thats not a given.As I said at the beginning of this review, Live Mesh has a ton of potential. Fix the performance, the user interface, and add Mac and mobile clients (in the works), and it could help people really get a handle on their far-flung data.”
Finally take a look at what Yahoo, Microsofts buyout target, is up to here.
This has a lot of Live Mesh elements without the proprietary or “we get to invite which OS platforms we[Redmond] will support”. Now with Live Mesh, Microsofts bid for Yahoo makes more sense – but still they certainly are going to have huge cultural shock trying to manage the Yahoo cats.