Well I am always a glutton for new Microsoft toys, and as a champion of the Cloud with the advent of Windows Live Essentials 2011 I was upgrading and ripping out my Live Mesh beta set-up, especially after a few positive Tweets from known Microsoft’ies who I will take this up with when I next bump into them!
The experience will vary from user to user, and those who have not been enjoying the Live Mesh Beta (www.mesh.com) for the last year or so will not notice much and probably regard the New Windows Live Mesh 2011 component of Windows Live Essentials 2011 functionality as a step up from the old SkyDrive. Which in real terms is what it is, this is NOT ‘Mesh’ as Live Mesh beta users know it.
Fort those who had become familiar with the Live Mesh beta and heralded its intuitive and slick interface with Mac support will be in considerable distress.
The new Windows Live Mesh 2011 component of Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite is not an upgrade from Live Mesh beta but a resoundingly frustrating and embarrassing downgrade!
Better not to have used the term ‘Mesh’, it falsely sets expectations for Live Mesh Beta users and will not fool any of them for more than the time it takes to read the label. This is another example of poor naming convention / adoption that generates confusion in the marketplace.
Even as an experienced user I find the interface and application feedback of the Windows Live Mesh 2011 component of Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite gives no confidence, it is very challenging to find out what your Sync status is and some status labels are misleadingly WRONG which is a fundamental flaw in such a service.
Let me approach this constructively. I will attempt to be positive and do so through a list of constructive feature suggestions (fundamental to at least bringing the SkyDrive synced storage up to par with Live Mesh Beta so it at least earns the right to the label ‘Mesh’ ):
1. Intuitive active icon in the task bar when Syncing Please
2. A clear indication of volume countdown in transfer from the desktop, as a mouse over on the task bar icon.
3. A visual indication that a folder is a SkyDrive synced storage folder in desktop file explorer (Live Mesh Beta had them intuitively in Blue that would be nice for consistency). Save users inadvertently dropping a big file in a SkyDrive synced storage folder and maxing out their storage.
4. Remove the WRONG statement on the Desktop Windows Live Mesh 2011 ‘Windows Live Mesh’ screen that list sync’d folders. Labels showing a green tick and ‘Up to Date’ after adding a folder are WRONG. It is necessary to login through a browser to check the online interface to get any indication of file status, and only there do you get a static file count ‘still to be Sync’d. Please save users thinking files are in the Cloud and disconnect prematurely only to get to a remote site to find their files are not available!
5. Enable managing Sync folders from File Explorer in the right click menu as per Live Mesh Beta, put the functionality where it belongs.
6. Skydrive via Live Login says I have 25Gb and shows none of my SkyDrive synced storage folders, but when I click on Sync’d folders it says 5Gb?? And then shows me my folders? Consistency would be useful showing folders in one place and identifying Sync’d ones with a clear icon. Current interface is confusing.
7. New SkyDrive synced storage seems to be slower than the Live Mesh Beta at transferring files based on previous experience.
8. Remote desktop access via Device list (as it was in Live Mesh Beta!).
9. Ensure Windows Aero is re-enabled after Windows Live Essentials 2011 installation. It has taken a re-seletion of my desktop theme and another re-boot, to get it back!! (I will give you the benefit of the doubt on this one that there may be a desktop conflict as I run Win7 x64 on a fully loaded 27inch iMac.)
10. Call it SkyDrive synced storage at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-mesh?os=other, which is what it is. ‘Mesh’ is Live Mesh beta a seperate and supirior service scheduled to be terminated according to its home page.
On the plus side, the new Windows Live Mesh 2011 component of Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite does sync Explorer favourites and Office Outlook settings across systems, well done Microsoft. These are the only reasons worth upgrading that I can see, otherwise you may be better staying with Live Mesh beta till Microsoft brings the service up to parity or no doubt pulls the plug on it and forces you over as www.mesh.com seems to now imply!
Off to rip out Windows Live Essentials 2011, and going back to Live Mesh Beta…. For now.
Whilst I am writing on the subject it is also worth noting that the Windows Live Essentials 2011 ‘Writer’ blogging tool still thinks Live Spaces is an endpoint for Blogging. As you will no doubt be aware Microsoft is discontinuing this transferring users to WordPress.com. Although if you set-up to post to your WordPress.com account using Live Writer it does give you the ability to ink your posts with your Live account! Is this MS Live turning into a simple aggregation interface? Dropping services just to link them back in!