Live Mesh reaches out to the Mac

Graphic showing files moving between devicesOn the same day that I published my recent post about Windows Live FolderShare, I heard that the current Live Mesh beta is now available on a Mac.

Despite already being a Mesh user, I tried to add my Mac as a device but was disappointed to read that the Live Mesh Tech Preview was out of invitations so I tried again this evening and was pleased to find that it accepted me and let me install the software.

First impressions were good, with a really straightforward installation and good client support – working like a Mac application (not a Windows application running on OS X) and with support for both Safari and Firefox.

Then I realised that Mac-PC synchronisation in Mesh still needs to go via the Live Desktop (i.e. out to the ‘net and back), as evidenced when I tried to sync a folder that was not fully replicated:

The current version of Live Mesh cannot synchronize a folder with a Mac computer unless the folder is also synchronized with your Live Desktop.

This lack of LAN-based peer-to-peer support, combined with Mesh’s 5GB storage limit means that FolderShare is still the sync option for my work in progress (be prepared for a long wait if you’re syncing via the web and an ADSL connection – ADSL downloads are fine, but uploads are s…l…o…w…).

Predictably, some features are Windows-only too (like the remote desktop capability). There’s mobile device support too but it does depend on the phone – for example my Apple iPhone 3G was recognised as a Mac, after which Safari refused to install anything (I didn’t expect it to work but I just had to try!).

I don’t want to sound negative – Live Mesh is has so much potential and it is still a beta – over time new features will be added and it will be fantastic. Right now it’s still a little confusing – with the feature sets of Windows Live Skydrive, Mesh, FolderShare and Office Live Workspaces all overlapping slightly it’s sometimes difficult to fathom out the best tool to use – and those are just the Microsoft options! Hopefully this will all shake down over the coming months and the vision of my digital life being available wherever I am will become a reality.

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