Microsoft can be best described as schizophrenic when it comes to product releases. Releasing applications that are incomplete or see little support in their lifetime, before they are discontinued is becoming an undesirable habit. This pattern is repeating itself with Windows Live Mesh and SkyDrive. Microsoft released Mesh as part of the Windows Live suite of software, however, with little to no advertising or explanation of what it does, it failed to gain much traction.
Mesh is actually a really useful program. It allowed you to easily set up file synchronisation, either to the SkyDrive cloud or via p2p to another pc. It allowed you to select any folder on any drive, and whenever you made a change to a file in this folder, changes were synchronised. I used this as an easy cloud back up solution, syncing my work to the cloud and also to any other pc’s I worked on. It was a simple solution and worked perfectly. Mesh even included a remote desktop feature and was great for getting across different networks with all sorts of firewalls and nightmare settings.
However, Microsoft decided to release a SkyDrive application. This was seen by many as confusing, SkyDrive is the cloud storage, the SkyDrive app lets you sync to it, so where did the Mesh app fit in? It didn’t unfortunately, and earlier this year, Microsoft quietly removed Windows Live Mesh from the list of programs in Windows Essentials 2012, replacing it with SkyDrive. Microsoft has now said that Live Mesh support will end on February 13th, 2013. Microsoft added that Microsoft has started to contact the remaining few users of Live Mesh which it says is less than 25,000 users. It added that Microsoft will, ” …. provide a set of instructions on how to keep their files in sync and alternative options for some of the features they’re still using.”
This help turns out to be an email encouraging you to switch to SkyDrive, advising you that Mesh synced storage or SkyDrive synced storage, will be removed on this date and the functions of Mesh that SkyDrive doesn’t have will just stop working. Microsoft also seem to be promoting LogMeIn as an alternative for remote desktop usage. Looks like this feature wont be making its way to SkyDrive anytime soon.
So for Mesh users it may be rather galling that the following features are unavailable in SkyDrive:
1) The ability to sync any folder (not just those within your SkyDrive folder).
2) The ability to sync files via p2p over local networks.
3) Remote Desktop to any Mesh connected computer.
These features are pretty important and I’m sure those 25,000 users that Microsoft are happy to dismiss, will be moving to competing services rather than use an inadequate SkyDrive application. Hopefully, Microsoft will listen to its users and integrate these features in the future but given its track record, I wouldn’t hold me breath.
Thanks for reading,