Mesh’d!

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I’ve been playing around with the Live Mesh technical preview for a few weeks now. Once I found this way to
disable UAC prompting without disabling UAC, I was able to install and use Mesh. So far there’s not much more to Live Mesh than file sharing and remote control, which makes it a bit of a cross between Adesso’s now-defunct Tubes and GoToMyPc.

On the file sharing front, it’s been nothing but awesome. Mesh is like the old-school Windows 95 “Briefcase” for keeping files in sync among multiple PCs, except it actually works. The interface is monumentally easier and more intuitive than Tubes, which required a degree in particle physics just to configure it to share a simple file. Mesh integrates right into Explorer and the Windows UI. Mesh folders appear appear wherever you want them, with a distinctive blue folder (reminds me of the Crystal theme on KDE). I have a “Shared” folder that is automatically sync’d with my laptop and the website. I’ve started saving my hours logs in there so I don’t lose track of hours worked when I’m at a remote location. Mesh works offline and syncs back up when you’ve got internet access again. Conflict resolution is a manual, prompted process that’s easy to understand. If I’m at a PC that’s not a device on in my Mesh, I can still easily access my files through the web interface. It’s all very simple.

It also supports multiple users accessing folders, so a friend and I both have his folder and can share files with each other just by copying them into their. We’ve used it to exchange code projects, DLLs, study guides, etc. Each folder has a little news pane associated with it that lets you see what’s happened to it recently or post notes.

Very nice in that regard. The remote desktop component is very nice as well, letting you connect to any device in your Mesh that is running the client. It worked without any extra configuration on my router (doesn’t appear to use UPnP as far as the router reports, so it must all be server-based). Unfortunately, it’s dreadfully slow compared to a plain old Remote Desktop session. Hopefully performance improvements will be in the next version. Again, support to remote into your machine is offered via the web interface if you’re on a non-meshed PC.

I’d love to be able to eventually have my Documents/Music/Pictures folders just be mesh folders that are available on any PC I add to my Mesh rather than having to copy files over manually. I think that might be the direction Microsoft heads with this technology if it proves to be successful and they can find a way to profit from it. The infrastructure costs to mass-market support this thing beyond a tech preview would be huge, I’d think.

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