Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Live Mesh, Windows Live and other Microsoft services

with one comment

On 26th January a thread was posted on the Live Mesh forum asking:

For some time now, many of you have expressed interest in seeing some sort of combination of Live Mesh and other Microsoft services. In order to further explore these ideas we would like to ask you to share with us the scenario(s) that you have in mind.

What combination(s) are you interested in, and why? Whatever your interests, whatever problem you’re trying to solve or scenario you want to enable, we’d like to hear the details – and the more specific you can be, the better.

I couldn’t pass up a waxing lyrical opportunity like that and went a bit mad in my list of scenarios. Still, I’ve written that list now so there’s no harm in sharing it here as well. Below are the scenarios I came up with, read them if you can be bothered. If you have any ideas of your own head to the thread and add them up there.

Without further ado:

  1. Remember OS settings. I want to be able to have the same desktop, taskbar settings, recent documents, sidebar gadgets, start menu items, theme etc… on all my machines. Perhaps I could define "profiles" of this stuff and when I buy a new machine I simply pick a profile to apply to it.
  2. Syncing files is great but not so good if the software I need to view them isn’t on all my machines. e.g. I create a Visio document on one machine but on another machine I don’t have Visio installed. How about if I install Visio on one machine than it automatically appears on all of them? This is similar, but still different, to Mesh enabled web apps.
  3. Imagine the scenario: my (sync-equipped) Ford Focus says to me:
    "Ah Mr Thomson, I see from your calendar that you have a meeting in Reading in an hour’s time. It usually takes 45 minutes to get there from your current location but an accident on the M4 means that traffic is slow moving so you’d better get moving or else you’ll be late. Here is the optimum route: http://maps.live.com/blah-blah-blah. Would you like me to plug the route into your GPS device for you?
    Your friend Mr Smith has also been delayed by the traffic (his current location is shown on the previously linked to map) and is expected to arrive approximately 10 minutes late. I have informed all your colleagues that they may need to delay the meeting and have automatically re-booked the meeting room accordingly."

    This should be possible one day using Mesh. Originally discussed here: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/liveframework/thread/1b803f3f-4fc4-489c-9b65-17c669b5bb01
  4. I want to be able to view my Exchange calendar that my employer provides for me alongside all my other calendars at http://calendar.live.com. Not sure if this is something Mesh could help with – perhaps it could.
  5. Live editing of files as I have them open. e.g. I have the same Excel file open as someone else. If they change some value in one of the cells then I’d expect it to change on my version too (and vice versa). I suspect Office Live is meant to solve this.
  6. Syncing SkyDrive with my local machines has got to be top of most people’s lists hasn’t it?
  7. I’d like to store all my Messenger conversations on the Mesh. As I have explained previously (More on storing Messenger conversations on the Mesh) the current ability to Mesh sync the folder containing all my stored conversations is useful…but not a complete solution.
  8. Being a data guy at heart I’d like to use Mesh to sync the contents of a SQL Data Services store. Perhaps I could sync it with Amazon SimpleDB or Google BigTable? That would be interesting…
  9. An online shopping list. Whichever device I’m on I can add something to my online shopping list. I could submit this list to my local supermarket and they then deliver it all. Or, perhaps that shopping list could be displayed on the shopping trolley (i.e. shopping cart) as I go around the store.
  10. Control my Windows Media Center when I’m not at home. e.g. A show is coming on that I want recorded, I use Mesh to set my Windows Media Center to record it.
  11. I want my music library to live everywhere. On my computer, inside my stereo system, in my car.
  12. Virtual folders. e.g. I have a "virtual view" which is all of the files pertaining to some search term. The definition of that virtual folder is synced across multiple devices – as far as the O/S is concerned its a regular folder and it accesses it as such. Any changes to a file in the virtual folder are actually made to the file where it resides in reality. If you think about it, this functionality could be used to only view/share a subset of a Mesh folder. (I may be mistaken but I think WinFS was originally promised to deliver similar stuff to all of this)
  13. I want to be able to have an up to date view of my bank accounts synced across all my devices. e.g. I’m in a store wondering if I can afford a new shirt. I just take out my phone, open my "banking app" and see instantly what my balance is. If I buy it I’d like that transaction to be represented in my "banking app" before I’d even gotten out of the store.
  14. Live Spaces to sync with Live Writer. So that as I write a blog entry it automatically appears as a draft on my Live Space. When I’m ready I check a box saying "publish" and it automatically gets published. No "upload" necessary.
  15. At the moment Zune is inherently "single master" i.e. My computer is the definitive source of all my my Zune media. Why not have it multi-master so that I don’t have to wait until I get home to put the a new album onto my Zune. I buy the mp3 from (say) Amazon, save it to my "Zune library stored on Mesh" and then as soon as my Zune gets online it starts to sync with it. Basically, make it all less reliant on that single master computer.
  16. Zune podcasts. At the moment if I see a podcast advertised then I have to write down the URL until I’m back at the computer which is my "master source" for my Zune. Why not just type the URL into some sort of Zune app which then syncs my list of subscribed podcasts back to my computer which then downloads it and ultimately puts it onto my Zune.
  17. One contacts store. Be it Windows Live, on my phone or in Exchange. I know this is all possible today using various "connectors" but it definitely needs to be more seamless. Like I said above, it just needs to be invisible.
  18. Data sharing with 3rd parties. e.g. If one of my Facebook friends updates their phone number I want that to automatically flow to my Windows Live contact store for that person. I know this is a huge ask and there’s many more parties involved than just Microsoft, but Mesh could enable this.
  19. Live Maps collections should be stored in the Mesh and viewable via a Mesh app.
  20. I’d like to be able to store the results of queries on search.live.com into a place on Live Mesh. Live Mesh can become a "cuttings" book (or a scrap book as we call it in the UK) of search results over time.
  21. Windows Mobile could capture my location (via GPS or otherwise) and upload it to Mesh. I can share my location with others or share it with services who could use that information to provide me with relevant information.
  22. Having the ability to resolve conflicts is OK but I’d rather there weren’t any conflicts in the first place. So, in Office Live, I’d like there to be the ability to "lock" a file (a bit like check-in/check-out) stored on Mesh (or wherever) to prevent anyone from making changes to it. That lock is permeated across the Mesh.
  23. Go to http://search.live.com and search the contents of my Mesh as well as the public web. If ever there were a Google differentiator – that is it.
  24. The standard File Open/Save dialog in Windows apps should offer an option to save directly to my cloud storage whether that be Skydrive/Mesh or whatever our cloud storage looks like in the future. (This is what I mean above when I say "seamless" and "invisible".) This is the feature that you need to delay Windows 7 for. Seriously. 
  25. My custom word dictionary and list of autocorrects in Microsoft Word lives in the cloud so that they are accessible to other apps.
  26. I reckon we’ll get to a point where our "computer" is something spanning multiple devices – our own "personal mainframe" if you like. "Logging onto your computer" will no longer mean logging onto a single device, it means logging on to that personal mainframe. With that in mind (and getting back to the point of this thread) as a first step I’d like to see us given the ability to log on to Windows using our Windows Live ID. Given its name that seems like an obvious thing to do and I’m rather surprised it can’t be done in Win7 beta 1.
  27. I know that a fairly common request of Live Mesh is to allow us to store a history of versions of a given file.

    Nowhere would this be more useful than in code development where typically today we use version control systems to store old versions of our code files. I envisage that our online storage (whatever that is) could be turned into our own "personal version control system in the cloud". If that were done then why not allow Visual Studio to use that – automatically creating all code we write in that version control system. Code is always synced to wherever you’ve got VS installed because, well, its on the Mesh isn’t it?

    This idea came to me when I considered that I have code that I have written over the years strewn all over the place. How great would it be if all my code (and versions) were managed for me? How great would it be if version control and code storage were simply something I never had to think about.

  28. There’s a lot of talk on this thread about syncing software settings across different machines -and rightly so- so why not take the idea one step further. Instead of just syncing the software settings how about syncing the software itself? Let me explain.

    Every time I get a new machine I have to go through the rigmarole of installing Office, Windows Live Essentials, Visual Studio and a whole conurcopia of other software. This usually involves [putting a DVD into the drive/mounting an .iso] and clicking through the same monotonous wizard that I went through last time I installed it on my last machine. Doesn’t this all seem a little bit…redundant? I’ve already installed the software once and supplied all of the information prompted for in the wizard, why do I have to enter it again?

    Better would be if the software was something I (notionally) installed onto my Mesh (i.e. my "personal mainframe" that I talked about above) and it was just there and available to me whenever I bought a new device.

  29. I saw a report yesterday about the SendTo menu in Win7:

    As you already know, when you right-click on any item, one of the options that displays is the “Send To” menu. In Windows 7, you can choose to send that item to a Compressed (Zipped) Folder, your Desktop (create shortcut), Fax or Mail Recipients, or to your CD/DVD drive. However, when you hold down the SHIFT key and right-click, a whole new menu appears with a lot more options.

    The expanded menu includes all of your User folders like Contacts, Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Links, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, My Videos, Saved Games, and Searches.
    (http://on10.net/blogs/sarahintampa/Windows-7-Secret-ldquoSend-Tordquo-Menu/)

    It would be nice if that expanded SendTo menu allowed you the ability to SendTo your cloud storage. I envisage all of your Mesh/cloud storage folders appear as another sub-menu (a bit like desktop folders do in the Desktop toolbar on the Windows taskbar) – allowing you to quickly and easily move stuff into your Mesh.

    Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, story, windows live, mesh

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    Written by Jamiet

    February 11, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Posted in Uncategorized

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