The computing industry that as we know today is changing very fast into one in which everything we need can be accessed online. Microsoft is onboard with this new computing paradigm popularly known as “Cloud Computing” which folks at Redmond more like to call it as “Software + Services”.
For the past several years, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has always emphasized in his various keynotes and speeches on how important a role a Windows PC plays as the center of everyone’s digital life. Sure people have moved beyond the PC with connected devices, and has engage with others online, but the PC was always at the center. When you think about it, putting a PC in the center of our lives.. it makes a lot of sense … but the trend now is changing, people now are more looking for these portable form factors that utilize Internet that work online in ways that, as it turns out, don’t actually require Windows or traditional PCs.
Now this to me is a very important time for Microsoft, the time when Bill Gates and some of other oldies reign ends at Microsoft. While these people did a lot for us to change about how we perceive computers today and I have tremendous respect for them but now I also think that there is a need for a change, a change that can change Microsoft’s outlook(not Office Outlook) on how they work today.
Microsoft more recently turned towards the outside talent and promoted them to its executive ranks, Ray Ozzie being one of them who filled the big boots of Bill Gates last year as Chief Software Architect with ease. His appointment as CSA Microsoft to me has been one of the best decisions Microsoft took in the period of like say last few years. He’s the real man behind Windows Live and many of the new S+S applications which we are now seeing. This is the guy who has been involved with some of the major computing trends. Its now finally after a period of couple of years that we’re seeing the positive effects of this new blood at Microsoft.
Ozzie is now in charge of setting the future direction for the world’s largest software maker and unlike his predecessor, he has little interest in milking past successes. He is the guy behind Microsoft’s cloud computing efforts and the products and services he’s working on have little do with Windows, Office, or Server. He knows that the world is moving on and he’s trying to move Microsoft with the same pace to this new world. Some people there will go willingly. others will go screaming, while some may simply retire, unable to handle the future Microsoft. Regardless, change is happening and its clearly visible now..
So the result of all this is that you see the birth of Live Mesh. Microsoft’s Software + Services initiative promotes the best of the old (what Microsoft does best) with the best of the new (what Microsoft will do increasingly more frequently in the future).
But at this years WWDC, Apple unveiled a service that allows users to wirelessly sync and access information across multiple devices and has yet again beaten Microsoft in first releasing a complete product out the door of which Microsoft already showcased a Tech. Preview in May. Apple announced replacement to their .Mac in the form of MobileMe, a service which syncs data between PCs, Macs, iPhone & iPod Touch. The service works with Microsoft Outlook on a PC. Mail, Address Book, and iCal on a Mac and Mail, Contacts, and Calendar on the iPhone or iPod Touch. It allows us to access and manage our email, contacts, calendar, photos, and files at me.com.
While I haven’t tried MobileMe as yet primarily because it isnt available until July 11, I have played quite a lot with Live Mesh ever since it was released to a small group of testers in May and even though its is still in early development phase has already become a central part of my daily computing life.
Lets look at what these two services offer and how do they compare against each other?
First up lets see what Live Mesh offers?
You dont often see Microsoft getting credit for something they introduce first in the market. Live Mesh truly is a game changer for Microsoft as far as their online services are concerned and its in a league of its own. It is currently only open to a small group of private testers. It offers free 5GB cloud storage to synchronize and store data in the cloud. The best thing about Live Mesh is that it integrates extremely well into Windows shell which allows us to synchronize our files and folders between various devices but the catch is that it also has an option which keeps the file in cloud making it available whenever and wherever you want. The service also promises to support Mac’s and Windows Mobile (iPhone anyone?) phones to sync files within multiple platforms. Remote Desktop is also a great addition that enables us to remotely access our computers within our Mesh network from anywhere around the world. Live Mesh also includes a cloud storage component, called Live Desktop. It is an online service that allows synchronized folders to be accessible via a website and it looks extremely similar to Windows Explorer found in Windows OS. One of the bigger benefits of Live Mesh would be when later this year, an API would be release which would allow us to build app’s that would run online under Live Desktop environment.
All an all, Live Mesh works great for a service which is currently only available as a technology preview and so I have great expectations from this promising service which will be released later this year.
Now lets see what MobileMe has to offer?
MobileMe gives you access to 20GB of space in the cloud for a fee of $99/year. You can upload photos or documents. You can share your calendar across multiple platforms. You also get email service which can be used with Microsoft Outlook.
So MobileMe is basically a simple way to keep everything up to date. You can have the same data everywhere i.e. your computer, web and your phone and is always up to date. Apple’s idea behind this is that when something changes in one place, it will automatically change in all of the others. In essence, it will “push” the changes across your devices.
Besides all this, MobileMe also offers web versions to the native client applications found in Mac like iCal, iLife and Mail. This is where the main difference lies between Live Mesh and MobileMe. MobileMe offers beautiful looking web versions of the native applications in Mac whereas on the other hand Live Mesh offers synchronization with remote computing and Live desktop capabilities. It is also worthy to note that Microsoft already offers web based Mail and Calendar through their Windows Live platform but ofcoarse they dont collaborate or work as well as what Apple showcased at this years WWDC.
MobileMe stores all your email, contacts, and calendars on an online server – or “cloud” – and pushes them down to your iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, and PC. When you make a change on one device, the cloud updates the others. Push happens automatically, instantly, and continuously. You don’t have to wait for it or remember to do anything – such as docking your iPhone and syncing manually – to stay up to date.
Do everything you need to do on every device you own. MobileMe works with Mail, Address Book, and iCal on a Mac; Microsoft Outlook on a PC with Windows XP or Vista; and the built-in applications on your iPhone or iPod touch.
Check your email, change your calendar, edit your contacts, and more at me.com. Accessible anywhere, me.com is an ad-free suite of web applications — Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Gallery, and iDisk — that are elegant and easy to use. You can drag and drop, click and drag, use keyboard shortcuts, and even switch between applications with a single click. Me.com is such a great web experience, it seems as if you’re using desktop software.
This subscription-based service will be available on July 11. It’s priced at $99 per year with 20 GB of storage.
Both the services differ from each other in many areas as stated above but they do have same idea behind i.e. to synchronize user data so that they dont have to worry about updating multiple devices all the time.
In my opinion Live Mesh has more potential because the platform is open for others to develop on Live Desktop once the API is released later this year.