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Microsoft has conceded what others have been saying--that the PC is no longer the center of the computing experience. The admission came last week as chief software architect Ray Ozzie presented part of Microsoft's answer to that reality: a software-services combo called Live Mesh.
"The PC era has given way to an era in which the Web is at the center of our experiences," Ozzie wrote in a memo distributed to Microsoft employees and publicly released. "It is our mission in this new era to create compelling, seamless experiences that combine the power of the Internet with the magic of software, across a world of devices."
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Nice--if the business-friendly tools arrive
Live Mesh uses a 2-MB client, called the Mesh Operating Environment, to replicate file folders to cloud storage and to sync and share content with other devices and people designated by the user. When users sign on to the Live Mesh site, Mesh.com, a "device ring" shows the devices connected to the service. The site lets users manage the information they're sharing and syncing. A Live Remote feature provides remote access to devices.
While the first version of Live Mesh is designed for individuals and developers, Microsoft has business use in mind, too. It plans to add controls that will let IT departments manage Live Mesh device access via Active Directory, verify identities across organizations, and enforce usage policies.
Microsoft will deliver Live Mesh in phases, beginning with a broader test later this year. The downloadable client will be available initially for Windows Vista and Windows XP, followed by the Mac and other devices, while the Web service will be accessible in Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
Live Mesh has many loose threads. It's unclear how Microsoft's own applications will fit in, what vendors will sign on, and when business capabilities will be delivered.