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So, what is LiveMesh anyway? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I read (and watched) everything at mesh.com and all it sounds like a pile of BS. And not that big pile for that matter, is it too much to expect a COMPREHENSIVE explanation of what it is and how it works instead of a couple of lines that essentially say "it works just great" and nothing more?

    Anyway, they say it's for sharing of data. Cool, that's what I need and I was actually quite excited when I first heard about LiveMesh. (So I was about Home Server until learned more about it.) I do need to share data over the Internet -- some of my family's computers are no longer in our home LAN and some of them are sometimes out of LAN.

    You see, in the past we have no problems sharing data -- we shared folders we wanted to share (with RightClick | Share...) and they were accessible to all we wanted them be accessible to. The one thing I can't understand what all this 'synchronizing' thing has to do with it. I still remember the 'briefcase' thing from Windows 3.0, I didn't understand it then and I still don't understand it today. When I want a file to be copied from one place to another I do it with a mouse, like drag'n'drop, and I'm perfectly happy with that, OK?

    Well, I can understand that SOME people under SOME circumstances do want some kind of synchronization services, just don't tell me that file sharing and synchronization is the same thing. Especially when I can't synchronize all the files I want to share (something like 0.5 TB) because I don't have the enough space on the PC I want to share data with. As a matter of fact I want to share my files stored on one PC with another PC precisely because that another PC doesn't have enough storage — otherwise I'd just copied them there without any additional services, thank you very much.

    So, went to search for the bits of information on LiveMesh. But all I found was either same BS as on mesh.com or some screenshots that looked more like social network than data sharing service. And now they say it's a 'platform' where synchronization is "just a Notepad" so other people could write apps for it. Why would I need a platform, to wait until somebody writes Scrabble for LiveMesh? I don;t play Scrabble, what I was hoping was a data sharing solution.

    And you know, it you ask me, I already almost have it. Almost. If all of our remote computers could just VPN to our home LAN that'd be it -- we would again be able to share all the folders we want with whoever we want. There are two problems, though:

    1. MS does not allow more than 1 VPN connection. This one, of course, can be alleviated with 3d-party software. What, BTW, makes it kinda pointless on part of MS -- what it really's trying to achieve imposing such draconian limitations that could be easily overcome with free software, except pissing off its customers?

    2. My ISP sometimes changes my home IP-address and that breaks all connections. So what I'd like to see from MS (or whatever else) a service that would maintain a domain name for me -- just like MS Home Server but not for 150 bucks, naturally.

    So, does LiveMesh give me such capabilities? I'm still trying to find out. So far it looks like it doesn't but in the last desperate attempt I'm writing this post in hope somebody tells me, without feeding more BS about how great LiveMesh is: does it allow me share folders that would be accessible to remote computers via normal, familiar \\server\share\filename syntax and/or be mapped as lettered drives? So I could do with my data what I instead of "chatting in a folder with folder's guests" I've somehow managed to invite. Yes or no?

    And yet another question is privacy. I do want to share my data with people I do want to share my data with but I most certainly do not want to share it with MS. I mean, I see no point whatsoever for my data to be on MS servers for even a nanosecond. What I want is for MS to give both communicating parties their respective IP-addresses and then promptly forget about us. Until the next time it asked again to do its thing. So, provided LiveMesh does allow folder sharing, is there an option to limit its role to just "introduction" of communicating parties?

    Thanks for understanding. If there will be understanding.













    Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:20 PM

Answers

  • Zubatov, the Mesh staff has been a little light in their forum visits this week, so I suspect that they are busy on improving Live Mesh. However, I think you got the reaction that you did because of the tone of your post.

    Reading through your post, a few things jump out at me.

    "As a matter of fact I want to share my files stored on one PC with another PC precisely because that another PC doesn't have enough storage — otherwise I'd just copied them there without any additional services, thank you very much." For this, you want a storage solution on someone's server or remote access opened up from the other PC to your host PC. It won't work like simple file sharing you get on a LAN. When PCs are not on the LAN, sharing files is going to be done with a server in the middle doing the hosting or synchronization such as that which is offered via Live Mesh.

    "or some screenshots that looked more like social network than data sharing service" This would lead me to beleive that you didn't read all of the information available on Live Mesh as there is no way to mistake Live Mesh for a social network, in my opinion.

    "Why would I need a platform, to wait until somebody writes Scrabble for LiveMesh? I don;t play Scrabble, what I was hoping was a data sharing solution." It *is* a data sharing solution. It is extensible in that applications can be written to take advantage of the solution.

    "If all of our remote computers could just VPN to our home LAN that'd be it -- we would again be able to share all the folders we want with whoever we want." What you want is for your PCs that are not on the LAN to behave as if they were on the LAN. Go look at Hamachi. https://secure.logmein.com/products/hamachi/download.asp

    "My ISP sometimes changes my home IP-address and that breaks all connections." You need a DNS formwarding solution. There are many services available for this, some for free. With Live Mesh, you don't need this because it uses the client software and the Live Desktop on the server to handle the communicatins between PCs in the Mesh.

    "And yet another question is privacy. I do want to share my data with people I do want to share my data with but I most certainly do not want to share it with MS. I mean, I see no point whatsoever for my data to be on MS servers for even a nanosecond." It is called a "Privacy Policy" and one that will be respected by the provider, in this case, Microsoft. Your data is useless to Microsoft in that it is encrypted in transit and on the servers. If you feel that strongly about keeping your data on your PC only, I'd suggest unplugging the network cable. Even a service that simply provides the introductions can still monitor and capture all traffic. It would be agains the privacy policy, but it can be done - easily. No, Live Mesh does not offer this capability.

    -steve


    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Friday, August 22, 2008 4:11 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Zubatov,

    I believe that Steve has answered most of your questions, but I just wanted to add a couple of notes.  (I'm sorry this response is so delayed; I was away on vacation last week.)

    As far as what Live Mesh does, and does not, do at the moment, I think it's important to remember that this is a Tech Preview.  So, right now Live Mesh only does a few things (e.g., file synchronization, remote desktop connectivity), but the vision for Live Mesh is huge.  We're going to have a lot more to say about how we envision the future of Live Mesh at PDC08 in October (see here for a preview of the things we'll be discussing).  Today's offering is, as they say, just a taste.  (And one of the reasons that we've made this Tech Preview available to customers is because we want to hear from you about what you'd like Live Mesh to do.  If you have suggestions, by all means, please add them to the Wish List.)

    One other note, concerning privacy.  It is possible to use Live Mesh to synchronize your files without storing those files on Microsoft servers.  Of course, to enable synchronization, some metadata is stored in the "cloud", but you can choose to exclude the Live Desktop from syncing if you so desire, so that the full files are only on your computers.  I'm not sure if the implementation of P2P sync that we have today meets your needs, but I thought I should mention that we do have P2P synchronization (and we're continually working to improve it).

    I hope that Steve and I have been able to answer your questions.  And, as I said, if you're still willing to give Live Mesh a shot, we'd appreciate any feedback you might have.

    Thanks,

    Ben.
    Monday, August 25, 2008 10:08 PM

All replies

  • Sounds like you need to install Live Attitude Adjustment first.
    Wednesday, August 20, 2008 10:05 PM
  •  No kidding, why would anyone respond to that?  Get a grip and go get a Mac......
    Thursday, August 21, 2008 2:44 AM
  • Wow, have you actually read any of the information on www.mesh.com , also might help if you take a chill pill
    Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:36 AM
  • Sure guys, I love you all too. But I obviously didn't expect any answers from lemmings -- if only because they're inherently unable to give any sensible answer. On the other hand, I did expect an answer from the MS staff because, first, they're paid to do so and, second, it looked like MS was interested in me using this technology. Apparently, I was wrong. Well, their loss of a client who honestly wanted to use their product to competitors.
    Friday, August 22, 2008 3:47 PM
  • Zubatov, the Mesh staff has been a little light in their forum visits this week, so I suspect that they are busy on improving Live Mesh. However, I think you got the reaction that you did because of the tone of your post.

    Reading through your post, a few things jump out at me.

    "As a matter of fact I want to share my files stored on one PC with another PC precisely because that another PC doesn't have enough storage — otherwise I'd just copied them there without any additional services, thank you very much." For this, you want a storage solution on someone's server or remote access opened up from the other PC to your host PC. It won't work like simple file sharing you get on a LAN. When PCs are not on the LAN, sharing files is going to be done with a server in the middle doing the hosting or synchronization such as that which is offered via Live Mesh.

    "or some screenshots that looked more like social network than data sharing service" This would lead me to beleive that you didn't read all of the information available on Live Mesh as there is no way to mistake Live Mesh for a social network, in my opinion.

    "Why would I need a platform, to wait until somebody writes Scrabble for LiveMesh? I don;t play Scrabble, what I was hoping was a data sharing solution." It *is* a data sharing solution. It is extensible in that applications can be written to take advantage of the solution.

    "If all of our remote computers could just VPN to our home LAN that'd be it -- we would again be able to share all the folders we want with whoever we want." What you want is for your PCs that are not on the LAN to behave as if they were on the LAN. Go look at Hamachi. https://secure.logmein.com/products/hamachi/download.asp

    "My ISP sometimes changes my home IP-address and that breaks all connections." You need a DNS formwarding solution. There are many services available for this, some for free. With Live Mesh, you don't need this because it uses the client software and the Live Desktop on the server to handle the communicatins between PCs in the Mesh.

    "And yet another question is privacy. I do want to share my data with people I do want to share my data with but I most certainly do not want to share it with MS. I mean, I see no point whatsoever for my data to be on MS servers for even a nanosecond." It is called a "Privacy Policy" and one that will be respected by the provider, in this case, Microsoft. Your data is useless to Microsoft in that it is encrypted in transit and on the servers. If you feel that strongly about keeping your data on your PC only, I'd suggest unplugging the network cable. Even a service that simply provides the introductions can still monitor and capture all traffic. It would be agains the privacy policy, but it can be done - easily. No, Live Mesh does not offer this capability.

    -steve


    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Friday, August 22, 2008 4:11 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Steve.

    == When PCs are not on the LAN, sharing files is going to be done with a server in the middle doing the hosting or synchronization such as that which is offered via Live Mesh. ==

    So I take it LiveMesh does not do what I need, right?

    == This would lead me to believe that you didn't read all of the information available on Live Mesh as there is no way to mistake Live Mesh for a social network, in my opinion. ==

    You know, it is hard NOT to read everything on mesh.com since there is virtually nothing over there. But as it might be surprising to you, I did my homework. The screenshot I'm referring to are those:
    http://www.techcrunch.com/wp-content/livemesh-2.png
    http://www.techcrunch.com/wp-content/livemesh-3.png
    Gender, age, interests, comments... Looks awfully like social network. From data sharing service I'd expect: workstations, servers, shares, printers, privileges... In a Windows Explorer-like interface.

    == It *is* a data sharing solution. ==

    That, as I've understood correctly, does not allow me even such a simple task as sharing my 500GB disk on my home LAN with my laptop when I'm away from home? I don't think so.

    == Go look at Hamachi. ==

    Thank you, I will. Actually, just did. Looks promising, in some ways better than OpenVPN I was looking before.

    == You need a DNS formwarding solution. There are many services available for this, some for free. ==

    Yep. And it looks like Hamachi does exactly that.

    The is, you see, that I actually do like MS. And are trying to keep non-MS system software at minimum. So I held hopes on LiveMesh and was disappointed. Do understand me: I'm not asking to give the whole Server'08 for free, but why not give for free the functionality already existing in the Windows platform that is given for free by others? That wouldn't hurt MS financially at all but would keep its customers in the MS camp. I MS forces me to use TOO MUCH non-MS system software I just might decide to swith to Linux at some point in time.

    == Even a service that simply provides the introductions can still monitor and capture all traffic. It would be agains the privacy policy, but it can be done - easily. ==

    No it's not. If introductory service just provide parties with IP-addresses and ports it then cut completely out of the loop. Hamachi, according to their site, works like that.

    == No, Live Mesh does not offer this capability. ==

    Too bad. But thank you anyway. I think I've got answers to all my questions and even got a good advise on competing product. I certainly appreciate such level of openness.

    P.S. Read some more about Hamachi.
    https://secure.logmein.com/productcomparison.asp
    Seamlessly drag and drop files and folders between connected PCs -- NO
    Automatically print files from your remote PC to your local printer -- NO
    Looks like only LogMeIn IT Reach is the real thing an they said it would cost me $500 a year. Yeah, right. And I'm still not sure if that even that version does everything right -- I mean, just plugs a remote station into LAN somehow so any shared file would be accessible to any program without any limitations whatsoever. And Remote Desktop would work. Guess, I'll try OpenVPN this weekend. And try to find some DNS forwarding service.
    • Edited by Zubatov Friday, August 22, 2008 8:30 PM Got new information
    Friday, August 22, 2008 8:08 PM
  • Hi Zubatov,

    I believe that Steve has answered most of your questions, but I just wanted to add a couple of notes.  (I'm sorry this response is so delayed; I was away on vacation last week.)

    As far as what Live Mesh does, and does not, do at the moment, I think it's important to remember that this is a Tech Preview.  So, right now Live Mesh only does a few things (e.g., file synchronization, remote desktop connectivity), but the vision for Live Mesh is huge.  We're going to have a lot more to say about how we envision the future of Live Mesh at PDC08 in October (see here for a preview of the things we'll be discussing).  Today's offering is, as they say, just a taste.  (And one of the reasons that we've made this Tech Preview available to customers is because we want to hear from you about what you'd like Live Mesh to do.  If you have suggestions, by all means, please add them to the Wish List.)

    One other note, concerning privacy.  It is possible to use Live Mesh to synchronize your files without storing those files on Microsoft servers.  Of course, to enable synchronization, some metadata is stored in the "cloud", but you can choose to exclude the Live Desktop from syncing if you so desire, so that the full files are only on your computers.  I'm not sure if the implementation of P2P sync that we have today meets your needs, but I thought I should mention that we do have P2P synchronization (and we're continually working to improve it).

    I hope that Steve and I have been able to answer your questions.  And, as I said, if you're still willing to give Live Mesh a shot, we'd appreciate any feedback you might have.

    Thanks,

    Ben.
    Monday, August 25, 2008 10:08 PM