Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 Beta–Live Sync


UPDATE: 30 September 2010 – please see Windows Live Mesh 2011 Review

UPDATED: 28 August 2010 – please see Welcome back ‘Live Mesh’

UPDATED: 1 August 2010 – minor clarifications and additions following feedback from Adam Cogan

Like many, I’ve been a user of Microsoft Live Mesh since the day it was publically available, which I forget exactly when it was, but sometime around April 2008, or pretty much two years ago. I use it extensively to synchronise development software, personal documentation and photos with family around the world. I’ve also kept a close eye on all the leaks and general confusion surrounding it’s roadmap since it was released. Now we know that Live Mesh is no more and we have a hybrid Mesh / FolderShare addition to the Windows Live Essentials suite called Windows Live Sync.

After two years of development I was really looking forward to the improvements and on the 24th June 2010, installed it along with many other Live Mesh users. Wow. What’s going on here? Where’s my news feed? Where are my blue folders? Where’s my visual notification that files are syncing? I’m not to bothered about cloud space, but there has been mass condemnation of the new 2Gb (down from 5Gb) limit imposed, especially when SkyDrive serves up 25Gb. What else is missing? Worst of all, I’m going to have to try explain this downgrade to my family who love Mesh. Ok, so there is a real storm out there on Live Sync and I myself am not exactly impressed. Let’s compare Sync with Mesh and bring in an outsider, Dropbox, to see what’s changed and what options we have.

Note that the above list is not exhaustive and you may find other details on the web, e.g. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/livemesh/p/faq.aspx. I’ll update this table as more information becomes available.

Feature Live Sync Dropbox - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy.
Age April 2008 – in public Beta June 2010 – ‘First Beta’ 2008 – currently at version 0.7.110
Support Forum Yes – here
Searchable
Latest Posts
This forum is fairly quiet now and users are being directed to Live Sync
Yellow
Yes – here
Searchable
Latest Posts
There are a lot of angry posts here.
Yellow
Yes – here
Searchable
Tag Cloud
Categories
Latest Posts

Green[4]

System Tray Icon

Untitled

Unobtrusive icon.
Spins when Syncing.
Opens Mesh menu with single click.

Green[4]

Untitled 

Unobtrusive icon.
Spins only when signing in.
Double click to open admin screen

Sync Suggestion: Spin the icon during syncing. Single click to open.
Red 

Untitled 

Unobtrusive icon.
Spins when syncing.
Double-click opens dropbox folder.

Green[4]

System Tray Icon Menu Untitled
Provides quick access to all your folders, news and devices.
Green[4]
Untitled
Provides the options of starting the Sync ‘admin window’ or changing user.

Sync Suggestion: Bring back the Mesh menu and add usage figures like DropBox
Red

Untitled
Allows you to access your drop folder, see what’s recently changed and nicely shows your usage.
Yellow
Shell Integration – Folders Untitled 
Easy to identify blue folders. (don’t drop Gb files in them)
Adds a ‘Live Mesh folders’ folder under your Profile which provides some basic navigation and management.
Adds a pop out panel to synced folders which allows you to manage permissions and see a news feed for that folder
Green[4]
Untitled
Does nothing.

Sync Suggestion: bring back the blue folders or some other symbols to differentiate synced and non-synced folders.
Red

Untitled
Adds a folder to your Profile
Untitled
Adds a blue shortcut on your desktop. 
Yellow
Shell Integration – Menus Untitled
Right click any folder and easily add it to your personal mesh
Green[4]
Sync gives you nothing.
You have to go into the Admin screen to add a new folder.

Sync Suggestion: Bring back the Mesh menu.
Red

Dropbox operates more like it’s name says it does, i.e. a single folder which you drop stuff into.

Red
Remote Desktop Support Yes
Yellow
Yes, Faster and has zoom feature.
I still find remote connections to be very slow and instead use www.teamviewer.com.

Sync Suggestion:
Make Sync as fast and easy to use as TeamViewer.
Green[4]
No
Red
Cloud Storage Capacity 5Gb Free, no option to purchase more
Yellow
2Gb Free, no option to purchase more.

Sync Suggestion: link to the SkyDrive 25Gb.
Red

2Gb* Free, then pay for up to 100Gb.
You can get additional free Dropbox storage by completing the tutorial and inviting people.
Green[4]
Cloud Storage max individual file size *I’m trying to find this information* 2Gb 300Mb
Peer-to-Peer sync Capacity Unlimited
Green[4]
Unlimited
Green[4]
NA. Everything as to sync with the Cloud.
It would be nice to offer P2P syncing.
Red
Peer-to-Peer max individual file size *I’m trying to find this information* 40Gb
Green[4]
NA. Everything has to sync with the Cloud
Red
Windows Platforms XP SP2, Vista, 7, (unofficially Server 2003, 2008)
Green[4]
Vista, 7, Server 2008
Yellow
XP, Vista, 7, (unofficially Server 2003, 2008)
Green[4]
Cross Platforms Mac
Yellow
Mac OS X v10.5 or later
Yellow
Mac: OS X Tiger (10.4) or later, Ubuntu 7.10+ and Fedora Core 9+.
Green[4]
Mobile Platforms e.g. iPhone Windows Mobile
Red
Sync Suggestion: Add support for all major mobile platforms.
Red
iOS v3.0 or later, Android OS 1.5 (Cupcake) or higher.
Critically, this means iPhone and iPad users have a single service they can rely on.
Green[4]
Sync Speed Moderate
Yellow
Faster
Yellow
VERY FAST
Green[4]
Storage Usage Indication No
Red
No

Sync Suggestion: Add a clear indication of storage use to a revised Mesh like system tray menu.
Red

Yes
Green[4]
News Feed Yes.
Provides a great News feed on the tray menu for all news and then a News feed for each synced folder
Green[4]
No.

Sync Suggestion: Bring back the mesh overall and folder specific news.
Red

Minor.
Provides a small bit of info via the ‘Recently Changed Files” tray menu.
Yellow
Ability to Purchase extra cloud storage No
Red
No.

Sync Suggestion: Allow people to give you their money for more storage.
Red

Yes
Green[4]
Administration Interface e.g. adding users Windows Client
Easy to add new users to a folder and share it with them
Green[4]
Web Browser
Uses the Windows Live website, which if you go too far back in the breadcrumb trail, there is NO way of finding your way back to where you were.

Sync Suggestion: Do not use the Windows Live site. You’ve installed a client, let’s use it like we could with Mesh
Yellow

Web Browser
Fairly efficient, but another layer in the process
Yellow
# Shared Recipients Unlimited
I’ve never hit a limit and seen folders with hundreds of people sharing
Green[4]
9

Sync Suggestion: Remove the limit.
Red

Limited by the sum of storage.
Adds any shared storage to peoples quota, so although this doesn’t stop you sharing with someone, if they don’t have the available storage, then they won’t be able to share with you.
Yellow
Offline Mode Yes
Green[4]
No

Sync Suggestion: Add an easy to switch to Offline-mode.
Red

No
Red
Application Syncing No
Red
Office and IE
Yellow
No
Red
Browser Access to files in Cloud Yes, via Live Desktop
Green[4]
Yes, via SkyDrive
Green[4]
Yes
Green[4]

 

Cleary Live Sync Beta is a step backwards for Mesh users. I’m hoping that Microsoft are listening to the feedback they are getting and that the final product shows a big improvement.

If you are after a non-synced experience, then Sky Drive offers you 25Gb of storage. This should be enough for most users. What you won’t get is syncing though, and that is the key feature required by users on the go and working on multiple machines.

I know of many users who have happily moved to DropBox, however if you are considering moving, remember that there is good competition in this space. Another option to look at is SugarSync. I’ve not tried this myself, but it looks interesting and may be included in a final review when Live Sync goes gold.

Mike

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4 thoughts on “Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 Beta–Live Sync

  1. I have had it with MSFT. Live Mesh Beta was very nice.
    Along with the issues noted above, You could assign permissions to people you were synching with (owner, contributor, reader) now you can’t. The earlier web based interface was nifty and intutive, the new one is not.

    This is the last straw. I am sick of MSFT and actively looking for alternative OS.

  2. Pingback: Windows Live Mesh 2011 Review « FreeToDev

  3. I have been using Live SYnc for yuears for about a TB of data in about 20 directories. Now the new beta is out promising even more data (hence I could rationalise my files back into five main folders) I tried it… but it’s awful! The computers have slowed to a snails pace. Most files get duplicated all over.

  4. Pingback: Welcome back ‘Live Mesh’ « FreeToDev

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