Microsoft Live Mesh beta
Clumsy but powerful
- Sophisticated online file manager
- Needs a quick-start guide, clumsy
Although Microsoft Live Mesh provides many ways to do its various tasks, few were intuitive in the beta we tested. It cries out for a good quick-start guide, but the closest you get for now is a video tour. We were frustrated by features that were hard to discover, and glitz that seemed to slow down the work. The most distinctive feature, the remote-desktop capability, is already built into Windows, and unless Microsoft can come up with very attractive pricing (which at this writing hasn't been determined), we would look elsewhere.
Microsoft has sacrificed usability to provide a pretty interface in Microsoft Live Mesh — a powerful but unnecessarily clumsy file-sync service.
Using Microsoft's Live Mesh service is like learning to drive a car: once you have the hang of it, it seems pretty straightforward — but if you've never sat in front of a dashboard before, it can be a little confusing at first. The current preview version serves mainly to provide you with remote access to other computers, a method to synchronise data on those computers, and a way to share data with colleagues.
Unlike the hand-holding interface of BeInSync, the the Microsoft Live Mesh Web site starts you off with a screen showing existing devices (including the online file manager, Live Desktop) and a big '+' button for adding one. With a new device, you log in to the Mesh site and click the '+' button to download and install the Mesh software.
Once you've set up all your computers, you can connect to any one of them and even control that system remotely via Windows Remote Desktop, a Windows XP and Vista feature that Live Mesh enhances. (You might also need to install an ActiveX control on the system you're using to access another of your devices.) Unlike BeInSync, which provides access just to the data residing on other machines, the remote-desktop feature in Mesh lets you take complete control of a distant computer, although a slow internet hookup will make the experience painful if not impossible.
If you don't require remote access, you can head over to the Live Desktop to do your syncing and sharing chores. You can easily synchronise any folder on a computer by right-clicking it and choosing Add folder to your Live Mesh.
If you expand the dialog box, you can also identify which computers Mesh should copy the data to for syncing. In most cases you'll want at least one copy on the Live Desktop internet "cloud" (Microsoft's connected servers) so that you can access it even when your other computers are shut off. If you indicate that you want the data synced to other computers, Mesh will make a copy of the folder on the desktops of those machines (rather than asking you to decide where to put it, as BeInSync and Syncplicity do).
Mesh assigns a blue icon to folders it manages, but (unlike Dropbox and Syncplicity) it provides no direct indication as to whether they are up-to-date. Mesh does give you other kinds of information via the "Mesh bar," a sidebar that it attaches to every open Mesh folder window. The sidebar lists who is using a shared folder and how many people it's shared with, as well as a report of recent activity, including alerts about version conflicts. For information on multiple folders, you can open a pop-up Notifier window by clicking the Mesh icon in Windows' taskbar tray.
Live Mesh's online file manager is the most sophisticated and Explorer-like among the five sync services I tried, but it doesn't yet support drag-and-drop from your own desktop, or even thumbnail views of files (available in most of the other products). You can see slide shows of media files if you install Microsoft's Silverlight browser plug-in, but that doesn't help you in selecting and working with just the photos you want.
Mesh doesn't have any specific backup features, but you can convert any server folder into a static backup by telling the program to stop keeping it in sync.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 ASUS TUF FX505 (Ryzen 7) review: Tolerable trade-offs
- 2 Oppo A5Xs review: Cutting corners
- 3 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 4 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 5 Xiro Drone Xplorer V by Rapoo review
Latest News Articles
- Affinity offers Photo, Designer & Publisher for Free for 3 Months
- Parallels 15 lets you turn an iPad into a Surface tablet
- Bitdefender refreshes consumer cybersecurity offering
- Apple Music is now streaming on Alexa in Australia & New Zealand
- Windows Lite: what it is and when it might be released
PCW Evaluation Team
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
- Sonos Arc review: The Main Event
- Soundbars: Why they’re worth it and which one should you buy
- Buying a laptop this EOFY? Here's a cheat sheet
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies