Ray Ozzie delivers with Live Mesh

Microsoft’s fans are delivered to the promised land.

For three years now I’ve wondered “what is Ray Ozzie up to?” And with this announcement you see just why he’s Microsoft’s CTO. Yeah, there are about 100 smart people working on Microsoft’s new “Live Mesh” which was turned on tonight, but this is Ray’s coming out party, as much as anything.

It also gives key insights into how Microsoft is going to keep Windows relevant and keep us all from sliding into a Web that doesn’t rely much on the underlying operating system. Will Microsoft succeed in that? Well, they better otherwise we’re all very close to washing Microsoft out of our hair: forever.

It’s very hard to explain it all in a few words. It took 1.5 hours this morning for them to peel off the covers and show me all of Mesh’s feed goodness and start to explain what’s coming. What Mesh is today is mostly some end user functionality that looks like Plaxo Pulse done right, but if you stop right there and either get excited or dismiss it, you’ll miss the point entirely.

Yes, the synchronization features that most of you will notice when you start up the Live Mesh are pretty cool. Unfortunately they aren’t even close to being finished. Mac support? Coming in the future. Nokia support? Unclear. iPhone support? Ask Steve Jobs (translation: will be very limited due to Apple’s complete control of that platform). Firefox support? Yes! Linux support? What’s that?

When you start up the Mesh you get a desktop and you can build a new folder and you can drag stuff into that folder and share it. Simple enough. Then you can add a piece of software to each of your machines (XP or Vista right now only, Mac later this year) and that folder will be automatically synced.

But if you stop right there you’ll say “isn’t that like FolderShare?” Yes, it is.

Keep looking.

There’s a Window that has news generated by the sync system. Hmm, this looks vaguely familiar. Sorta like Facebook’s news feed. With a dash of Twitter thrown in. Funny that they showed me a prototype of how Twitter and Facebook items could be shoved in there. Oh!

Let’s keep looking.

There’s a way to wrap up Web sites into a sandbox’ed app and take them offline. Oh, cool.

So, what’s doing this? MOE!

The “Mesh Operating Environment.”

What does it have? An HTTP server (aka a Web server). That lets the Mesh run stuff that’s offline.

And MOE also has handlers for many wire formats including ATOM, JSON, FeedSync, RSS, WB-XML, and POX.

Now wait a second. This thing understands feeds underneath its covers! And it’s not just one way RSS the way, say, Google Reader treats RSS. It’s a new two-way system that both receives Atom (default) or RSS feeds from other MOE’s as well as sends them out to other MOEs.

And, everything has a URI so you can subscribe to everything in the system with, say, Google Reader. Hmmm. I wonder what Dave Winer will think about this system.

We haven’t even gotten into the developer SDK. They spent about an hour showing me how to build new kinds of syncable apps on top of the Mesh in a variety of tools.

Now you’re just getting a taste of how Microsoft is going to use the Mesh to stay relevant. It is bringing its developers onto the Internet in an interesting new way.

Is this ready for mom and dad to run? I’d wait, this needs some major testing and hashing out. But developers should absolutely take a look at this.

Several Microsofties pointed out that this is only a small portion of the Mesh strategy that’ll be revealed in October at Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference.

TechCrunch’s initial post is now up
, and that Microsoft will have several videos on its Channel 9 Website. UPDATE: Here’s the first with Ray Ozzie. Keep tuned to Twitter all night, cause we’ll discuss this in depth 140 characters at a time.

UPDATE: I didn’t even mention the identity system, er, social network underneath this.

UPDATE2: Mary Jo Foley has “10 things you need to know about Mesh.”

UPDATE3: It’s already on TechMeme, with tons of other info linked off of there.

UPDATE4: it’s fun to watch the news flow. Here’s a search for Microsoft Mesh on FriendFeed. Here’s one on TweetScan, which shows every Twitter message that mentions Microsoft Mesh. Here’s Google Blog Search, which shows all blogs that mention Microsoft Mesh.

UPDATE5: On10.net, another Microsoft video site, has a video demo that’s similar to the one I got today.

UPDATE6: the Mesh team has its own blog.

Jeff Sandquist already got things underway on Twitter.

I’m sure we’ll do some Qik videos tonight too to show off some of why I say this demonstrates Microsoft has a compelling Internet platform and strategy now.

206 thoughts on “Ray Ozzie delivers with Live Mesh

  1. And your holier than thou BS is tiresome.

    Hey, I agree. Tech rot bores even me. But if I had a blog, then my “holier than thou BS” would be a valuable conversation? Heck, every blogger slash pundit out there operates on “holier than thou BS”, and that’s the very fuel Scobleizer runs on, it’s just the Bay-Areaish “holier than thou BS”. My “holier than thou BS” runs more ‘will it play in Peoriaish’. Take as will.

    you’re way overly dependent on dashes

    Beyond guilty as charged, it works in Final Drafty dialogue-mode however. :)

    But I wouldn’t be so quick to knock those Average Joe’s, as they are CONSUMERS, the Mesh target market. But the classic “you don’t get it” is circular logic at it’s best, like a conspiracy theory where lack of evidence only proves it further, “you don’t get it” is a debate killer. And those “good ideas”, are little more than wishful thinking at this point. Possible, but not yet proven. And “good ideas” are nothing without “good implementations”.

    Why don’t you explain the “macroview” and compare .NET to the whole market.

    You expecting a book? Not taking that bait. It’s your argument, just saying comparing Win32/.Net ISP markets, says nothing about .NET Framework penetration or the scope of Java Enterprise developments etc. etc.

    doesn’t really matter much does it?

    Considering that without those 5,000 you wouldn’t have half of Hollywood and hardly any of Burbank, I’d say it matters. ;) Hollywood does have a lot of Final Cutters, but Burbank is almost all (still) Avid. And in true blogger-elitist-dogma, it’s not the SIZE of the audience, rather the INFLUENCE.

  2. And your holier than thou BS is tiresome.

    Hey, I agree. Tech rot bores even me. But if I had a blog, then my “holier than thou BS” would be a valuable conversation? Heck, every blogger slash pundit out there operates on “holier than thou BS”, and that’s the very fuel Scobleizer runs on, it’s just the Bay-Areaish “holier than thou BS”. My “holier than thou BS” runs more ‘will it play in Peoriaish’. Take as will.

    you’re way overly dependent on dashes

    Beyond guilty as charged, it works in Final Drafty dialogue-mode however. :)

    But I wouldn’t be so quick to knock those Average Joe’s, as they are CONSUMERS, the Mesh target market. But the classic “you don’t get it” is circular logic at it’s best, like a conspiracy theory where lack of evidence only proves it further, “you don’t get it” is a debate killer. And those “good ideas”, are little more than wishful thinking at this point. Possible, but not yet proven. And “good ideas” are nothing without “good implementations”.

    Why don’t you explain the “macroview” and compare .NET to the whole market.

    You expecting a book? Not taking that bait. It’s your argument, just saying comparing Win32/.Net ISP markets, says nothing about .NET Framework penetration or the scope of Java Enterprise developments etc. etc.

    doesn’t really matter much does it?

    Considering that without those 5,000 you wouldn’t have half of Hollywood and hardly any of Burbank, I’d say it matters. ;) Hollywood does have a lot of Final Cutters, but Burbank is almost all (still) Avid. And in true blogger-elitist-dogma, it’s not the SIZE of the audience, rather the INFLUENCE.

  3. “Developers will get excited, then nobody will use it.
    Apple will come and make it usable, beautiful and portable.
    It is not the idea that counts, it’s the implementation.
    And we all know M$ always sucks at that!”

    Because of your last sentence I’m not sure whether you’re facetious or not.. but I think Media Center is more usable, beautiful and portable than Front Row. The Zune UI is also nicer than the iPod UI.

  4. “Developers will get excited, then nobody will use it.
    Apple will come and make it usable, beautiful and portable.
    It is not the idea that counts, it’s the implementation.
    And we all know M$ always sucks at that!”

    Because of your last sentence I’m not sure whether you’re facetious or not.. but I think Media Center is more usable, beautiful and portable than Front Row. The Zune UI is also nicer than the iPod UI.

  5. Coulter, you don’t get it. And your holier than thou BS is tiresome. What does Exchange Online have to do with Web apps? Nothing. Exchange is a native Windows app, written in C++, delivered over the wire, mostly to users who will be using Outlook, not OWA. You may spend most of your time in front of Avid “terminals” doesn’t really matter much does it? There are about 5000 of you. Go have fun in your dark office.

    I certainly haven’t argued that “markup as a platform’ doesn’t have merit. It does, for delivering a half decent experience of delivernig data to my browser and a bit of interactivity. But if I want to do anything interesting, markup doesn’t cut it.

    If you’re referring to MESH as the “vaguely-defined non-shipping raw-concept consumer-targeted marketing-send-up” then (1) you’re way overly dependent on dashes and (2) lots of good ideas weren’t immediately understood by the average Chris…I mean Joe.

    The fact that you get “lots of acceleration on OLD hardware” is just fine and dandy. I made no refernce to new or old hardware. I just like to use the hardware I have for something other than running a Web browser.

    Lastly, what the hell does your last paragraph even mean? Why don’t you explain the “macroview” and compare .NET to the whole market. Go ahead. I’m waiting.

  6. Coulter, you don’t get it. And your holier than thou BS is tiresome. What does Exchange Online have to do with Web apps? Nothing. Exchange is a native Windows app, written in C++, delivered over the wire, mostly to users who will be using Outlook, not OWA. You may spend most of your time in front of Avid “terminals” doesn’t really matter much does it? There are about 5000 of you. Go have fun in your dark office.

    I certainly haven’t argued that “markup as a platform’ doesn’t have merit. It does, for delivering a half decent experience of delivernig data to my browser and a bit of interactivity. But if I want to do anything interesting, markup doesn’t cut it.

    If you’re referring to MESH as the “vaguely-defined non-shipping raw-concept consumer-targeted marketing-send-up” then (1) you’re way overly dependent on dashes and (2) lots of good ideas weren’t immediately understood by the average Chris…I mean Joe.

    The fact that you get “lots of acceleration on OLD hardware” is just fine and dandy. I made no refernce to new or old hardware. I just like to use the hardware I have for something other than running a Web browser.

    Lastly, what the hell does your last paragraph even mean? Why don’t you explain the “macroview” and compare .NET to the whole market. Go ahead. I’m waiting.

  7. you’re already stuck in the world of using Web-based apps

    Yeah, like Microsoft ‘Albany’, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft SharePoint Online, Dynamics CRM Online. Pity that.

    But eh? The “web apps” would be news to me. Web 2.0 crashy clunky mash-ups, that’s the Bay Area and Scoble and Co. Most of my “computing” is done in front of Avid “terminals”, hardly web, and not even close to “desktop”. So I am already beyond your boxed-in character-scenario definitions. But a philosophical argument over the failing merits of markup as a platform, doesn’t automatically mean there is any cloud-sync demand, let alone a vaguely-defined non-shipping raw-concept consumer-targeted marketing-send-up. Now Server underutilization, off the charts.

    And funny, I get lots of “acceleration” on OLD hardware, with “faster/more interactive” applications, with “local file system access”, after installing Fedora. Thanks for the tip.

    The Win32 to .Net migration is a microview, look at the macro, i.e. where is .NET in comparison to the WHOLE market itself.

  8. you’re already stuck in the world of using Web-based apps

    Yeah, like Microsoft ‘Albany’, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft SharePoint Online, Dynamics CRM Online. Pity that.

    But eh? The “web apps” would be news to me. Web 2.0 crashy clunky mash-ups, that’s the Bay Area and Scoble and Co. Most of my “computing” is done in front of Avid “terminals”, hardly web, and not even close to “desktop”. So I am already beyond your boxed-in character-scenario definitions. But a philosophical argument over the failing merits of markup as a platform, doesn’t automatically mean there is any cloud-sync demand, let alone a vaguely-defined non-shipping raw-concept consumer-targeted marketing-send-up. Now Server underutilization, off the charts.

    And funny, I get lots of “acceleration” on OLD hardware, with “faster/more interactive” applications, with “local file system access”, after installing Fedora. Thanks for the tip.

    The Win32 to .Net migration is a microview, look at the macro, i.e. where is .NET in comparison to the WHOLE market itself.

  9. Mark–”Don’t you want to use your machine for what it was designed for? Hardware acceleration? Access to the local file system? Faster/more interactive applications?”

    Yes, please. :)

  10. Mark–”Don’t you want to use your machine for what it was designed for? Hardware acceleration? Access to the local file system? Faster/more interactive applications?”

    Yes, please. :)

  11. Hit send to soon on previous. The old canard of Windows development being broken and in a long slide to death has been around for a while. If you’re talking about Win32 then you’re mostly wrong but partly right. Joe developer is not building a lot of Win32 apps using VB anymore. Those people have turned into scripters/HTML jockeys because it’s so much easier and they’re riding the rush to the lowest common denominator in app design and performance. But the biggest part of the software industry as a whole is Win32 – both on the client and the server. Look at all of Adobe’s software. Quicken. SAP. Oracle for Windows. All the big line of business applications are built using Win32/C++.

    Then a large part of the remaining developers are using .NET on Windows. A large chunk of home grown line of busines software is writting using .NET. Although Silverlight brings part of .NET to Windows and eventually Linux, .NET is fundamentally a new programming model/API for building Windows apps.

    If that’s a long slide into oblivion then I’d geuss that most companies would take it. ;)

  12. Hit send to soon on previous. The old canard of Windows development being broken and in a long slide to death has been around for a while. If you’re talking about Win32 then you’re mostly wrong but partly right. Joe developer is not building a lot of Win32 apps using VB anymore. Those people have turned into scripters/HTML jockeys because it’s so much easier and they’re riding the rush to the lowest common denominator in app design and performance. But the biggest part of the software industry as a whole is Win32 – both on the client and the server. Look at all of Adobe’s software. Quicken. SAP. Oracle for Windows. All the big line of business applications are built using Win32/C++.

    Then a large part of the remaining developers are using .NET on Windows. A large chunk of home grown line of busines software is writting using .NET. Although Silverlight brings part of .NET to Windows and eventually Linux, .NET is fundamentally a new programming model/API for building Windows apps.

    If that’s a long slide into oblivion then I’d geuss that most companies would take it. ;)

  13. Chris Coulter said..

    “I don’t get it, what demand is there for cloud sync? They’d be better off preaching the virtualization gospels.

    Windows development is truly broken, I think it will be a slow slide into nothing, a decade-long freefall.”

    I disagree with your premise that there’s no demand for cloud sync. I want it and I see dozens of scenarios where it would solve difficult programming/computing problems. But one possible reason you and others might think there’s no demand for cloud sync is that you’re already stuck in the world of using Web-based apps for most of your computing. If you’re doing that, who cares right? Your data is already on the Web. But then you’re living in a world of AJAX/Flash/Flex that turns your PC or Mac or iPhone into an expensive dumb terminal. Don’t you want to use your machine for what it was designed for? Hardware acceleration? Access to the local file system? Faster/more interactive applications?

  14. Chris Coulter said..

    “I don’t get it, what demand is there for cloud sync? They’d be better off preaching the virtualization gospels.

    Windows development is truly broken, I think it will be a slow slide into nothing, a decade-long freefall.”

    I disagree with your premise that there’s no demand for cloud sync. I want it and I see dozens of scenarios where it would solve difficult programming/computing problems. But one possible reason you and others might think there’s no demand for cloud sync is that you’re already stuck in the world of using Web-based apps for most of your computing. If you’re doing that, who cares right? Your data is already on the Web. But then you’re living in a world of AJAX/Flash/Flex that turns your PC or Mac or iPhone into an expensive dumb terminal. Don’t you want to use your machine for what it was designed for? Hardware acceleration? Access to the local file system? Faster/more interactive applications?

  15. Eduardo (and others) tried to make the point that Google Gears does what Mesh does.

    “Mesh is about letting you use browser-based apps and accessing all your data when you HAVE to but also giving you the choice or running your apps locally when you CAN.”

    “Google Gears does that.”

    Not so much. Google gears sort of kind of makes Web-based apps work when the user us offline. That’s nice…but you’re still stuck using a Web-based application. MESH is about having your apps and data move with you from device to device and up onto the Web when you want your data there. MESH means that you can use local/native applications when you’re using a PC/Mac or other device that supports the application and only forces you into using “native Web” apps when you have to or want to. Big difference.

  16. Eduardo (and others) tried to make the point that Google Gears does what Mesh does.

    “Mesh is about letting you use browser-based apps and accessing all your data when you HAVE to but also giving you the choice or running your apps locally when you CAN.”

    “Google Gears does that.”

    Not so much. Google gears sort of kind of makes Web-based apps work when the user us offline. That’s nice…but you’re still stuck using a Web-based application. MESH is about having your apps and data move with you from device to device and up onto the Web when you want your data there. MESH means that you can use local/native applications when you’re using a PC/Mac or other device that supports the application and only forces you into using “native Web” apps when you have to or want to. Big difference.

  17. Christopher Coulter — vaporware? I’m using it right now, and it’s going great.

    Tom – cling to their Windows dominance? What about the “Mac and mobile versions coming soon” part? I’d say it’s more about using all the work done on Windows in a more modern, “connected” way, instead of throwing it away just because it’s not in the browser.

  18. Christopher Coulter — vaporware? I’m using it right now, and it’s going great.

    Tom – cling to their Windows dominance? What about the “Mac and mobile versions coming soon” part? I’d say it’s more about using all the work done on Windows in a more modern, “connected” way, instead of throwing it away just because it’s not in the browser.

  19. @ Christopher Coulter.
    You’re adding ZERO to the discussion. The fact is that no matter what Microsoft did, you’d belittle it and bash it, and everyone knows that. That’s why your “input” is so tiresome, because it’s based on your hatred of Microsoft and nothing else.

  20. @ Christopher Coulter.
    You’re adding ZERO to the discussion. The fact is that no matter what Microsoft did, you’d belittle it and bash it, and everyone knows that. That’s why your “input” is so tiresome, because it’s based on your hatred of Microsoft and nothing else.

  21. This appears to be stuff we already have from other companies, but in an alpha stage, not as pleasant, and kind of mushed together in some type of anamorphic glob.

    An I agree with so many others, w/o universal support, there is no way any of it is making it into any of my networks. I run Multiple flavors of MS Windows and Linux, and everything we do also has to play well with Macs. Someone give me a nudge when this works with all three.
    Until then, I’ll continue to work in the real world w/o rose colored glasses.

  22. This appears to be stuff we already have from other companies, but in an alpha stage, not as pleasant, and kind of mushed together in some type of anamorphic glob.

    An I agree with so many others, w/o universal support, there is no way any of it is making it into any of my networks. I run Multiple flavors of MS Windows and Linux, and everything we do also has to play well with Macs. Someone give me a nudge when this works with all three.
    Until then, I’ll continue to work in the real world w/o rose colored glasses.

  23. ok, so now I have had a very good long hard look at this Mesh thing.

    My conclusion is that unless they make it easier and more transparent to use it will remain a technology only used by the 10% people that make up the Geek World… people like Scoble etc.

    I think the real problem with most things Microsoft makes these days is that they look like they where build by engineers for engineers. The Channel 10 presentation is the perfect example. I seriously doubt that Microsoft in it’s current way of doing things will be able to make this work easily for the common punter.

    Apple has tried something similar on a much much smaller scale with their integration of .Mac and Leopard. It’s easy to use and seamless in that environment yet not many people really seem to make heavy use of it.

    I think the bottom line is this is another attempt by Microsoft to cling to their Windows dominance, to make it relevant in a Web only world. I doubt there will be much support for devices or Operating systems not made by Microsoft. It also don’t think this will be very useful to people without two way broadband connection and I don’t think this will be easy to use…

    … in a nutshell this will be a real uphill battle.

  24. ok, so now I have had a very good long hard look at this Mesh thing.

    My conclusion is that unless they make it easier and more transparent to use it will remain a technology only used by the 10% people that make up the Geek World… people like Scoble etc.

    I think the real problem with most things Microsoft makes these days is that they look like they where build by engineers for engineers. The Channel 10 presentation is the perfect example. I seriously doubt that Microsoft in it’s current way of doing things will be able to make this work easily for the common punter.

    Apple has tried something similar on a much much smaller scale with their integration of .Mac and Leopard. It’s easy to use and seamless in that environment yet not many people really seem to make heavy use of it.

    I think the bottom line is this is another attempt by Microsoft to cling to their Windows dominance, to make it relevant in a Web only world. I doubt there will be much support for devices or Operating systems not made by Microsoft. It also don’t think this will be very useful to people without two way broadband connection and I don’t think this will be easy to use…

    … in a nutshell this will be a real uphill battle.

  25. Well, 24 hours later, and the collective response (minus the MVP sugary Fun-Dips) can be summed up thusly: “Huh?”

    Vague, mushy-lockbox vaporware, all without a sexy marketing hook. When you are pitching something Consumerish, and even developers are having a hard time wrapping it up, you know it’s doomed (well, the mere fact that Scoble is excited, is enough of a short-sell signal to me, but your mileage may vary).

    Over-hyped spin yet under a Sinofskyish lock-and-key, contradictions can be best-friends.

    WhydoIfeellikewehavebeenherebefore? Failstorm, Part Deuce, hey, great idea, Mesh needs a “Passport” Digital ID system. Only thing missing is trotting out Explainer-in-Chief Charles Fitzgerald to face the press and industry machine-gun fire.

  26. Well, 24 hours later, and the collective response (minus the MVP sugary Fun-Dips) can be summed up thusly: “Huh?”

    Vague, mushy-lockbox vaporware, all without a sexy marketing hook. When you are pitching something Consumerish, and even developers are having a hard time wrapping it up, you know it’s doomed (well, the mere fact that Scoble is excited, is enough of a short-sell signal to me, but your mileage may vary).

    Over-hyped spin yet under a Sinofskyish lock-and-key, contradictions can be best-friends.

    WhydoIfeellikewehavebeenherebefore? Failstorm, Part Deuce, hey, great idea, Mesh needs a “Passport” Digital ID system. Only thing missing is trotting out Explainer-in-Chief Charles Fitzgerald to face the press and industry machine-gun fire.

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