Microsoft's Mesh and music
Live Mesh will apparently let users share their music collections among all their devices.
I'm seeing a lot of interest in Microsoft's Live Mesh, a file-synchronization service and long-term vision for data-sharing across devices that the company announced at the Web 2.0 conference. It's an interesting vision, although it rehashes some basic ideas that Microsoft's been throwing around for at least seven years. (See this story from 2001: "Microsoft envisions HailStorm as a way for consumers and business customers to access their data--calendars, phone books, address lists--from any location and on any device." Substitute "Live Mesh" for "HailStorm" and it's back to the future all over again!)
But there's very little there today, as Webware's Rafe Needleman points out. I'm going to wait for more deliverables before passing judgment on whether this is really a major change in direction, or a mere feint in the direction of Web 2.0. One thing I know for sure: most of the revenue and all of the profits in Microsoft's earnings call on Thursday will be from software, not services.
One item in Rafe's hands-on review caught my interest, however. Apparently, Live Mesh will let you post certain types of music files (MP3s and, I'm guessing, non-DRM-protected WMA files) from your Mesh-connected devices to the service. Then, using a plug-in based on Microsoft's Silverlight technology, users will be able to stream these files to any device with a Web connection. Once Microsoft gets its cross-platform story ironed out (Silverlight on its way to becoming truly multiplatform; Mesh is Windows-only in this closed-beta stage but is promised for the Mac and mobile devices soon), this could become a great way to make your music collection portable--like promised to do before the company ran out of money and shut down.
Go a little further and imagine the Zune team building links to Mesh. For instance, the PC software could transparently sync your collection to the Mesh service, then you'd be able to stream any song in your library to any device with a Web connection. Sort of a celestial jukebox for one.