Microsoft lets more people use Live Mesh

Microsoft is letting more people use its Live Mesh file storage and sharing service.

Microsoft is letting more people use its Live Mesh service just days after Apple launched its similar, but broader, MobileMe service.

Live Mesh, which was first introduced on an invitation-only basis in April, lets people share and synch files and programs among various computers. Users can place documents into the "mesh," which is essentially an online storage locker, and then access them from another computer over the Web. In the future, Microsoft expects to add features that will let people use mobile phones and computers running Apple's Mac OS to access the content.

This week, Microsoft said it has doubled the number of people who can use the service and that anyone in the U.S. who has a Live ID can try it out. It didn't say how many people have been using Live Mesh or how many it will now support through the expanded invitation.

It has also made it easier to start using the service. Until now people had to register with Microsoft Connect, a process Microsoft uses to manage people who are early testers of its products and services. Microsoft Connect users then had to apply to be able to start using Live Mesh.

Live Mesh competes with Apple's MobileMe, although MobileMe has more features and lets users store and access files from a variety of devices. It also synchs e-mail, contacts and calendar items across devices including PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPod Touch devices.

Apple launched MobileMe on Friday and was overwhelmed by people trying to use the new offering. On Wednesday it apologized and offered subscribers 30 days free. MobileMe costs US$99 a year; Live Mesh is free.

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