First Impressions - Live Mesh Review

I had a chance to check out the new Live Mesh "tech preview" announced at the Web 2.0 Expo this week.

Two first impressions. First, the Live Mesh tech preview is a good start. It's obviously early in the life of Live Mesh so it's hard to judge something which you are viewing by just peering into one tiny porthole. Second, Live Mesh is a move away from the old freeze the market, bait-n-switch tactics of Microsoft old. Let's jump into the Live Mesh tech preview.

Live Mesh Installation

Score: 4 of 5--The Live Mesh install was extremely easy, and with one exception, was flawless. And I'm probably being a bit unfair about the one exception, because it had to do with SilverLight not installing properly, but I'm not dinging Live Mesh for that one.

To join the tech preview, just sign up. They are taking 10,000 users initially. You'll receive an e-mail when you are in, then go back to the site and sign in with your Windows Live user ID.

First, you'll need to add your device to the Mesh, which causes Live Mesh software to be installed on your computer. It all went very fast and went well for me... no problems.

Live Mesh Add Devices Page
From there, you can add other devices or start to upload documents you want to share through Live Mesh, as shown in this screenshot (click to enlarge).

That's the good news. Now, for the bad. To use Live Mesh you'll have to enable UAC on Vista. Yep, you heard me right. You have to ENABLE UAC! OMG, hasn't Microsoft learned their lessons about User Account Control? You know what UAC stands for, don't you? User Annoyance Center. I'm sure there are good security reasons for doing this but Microsoft is asking a lot from us if they expect users to live with UAC in order to use Live Mesh.

Holy barriers to entry, Batman. One BIG demerit, to what otherwise is a great installation experience.

Sharing Data

Score: 3 of 5--Setting up folders and sharing files are easy. Go to the Live Desktop and start adding folders. One thing that was a bit confusing is that you double-click folder icons in Live Desktop. I guess it makes sense since this is a desktop metaphor, but doing it from a browser fooled me until about the fourth try.

Microsoft Live Mesh Desktop
Adding files is easy and straight forward through the Live Mesh web interface. You can also go to you Windows Explorer where you'll find "Live Mesh Folders" under your account's local files. Everything's pretty straight forward from there too. I do wish you could drag and drop via the Web interface (something I'll say more about later) and could add folders in addition to single files. I suppose those features will come.

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