Since I got invited to Live Mesh earlier this week, I've been playing around with the settings, adding devices, and sharing folders. It's pretty impressive how easy Mesh was to install and set up. I just downloaded and installed a small software app that runs in my system tray and then, on www.mesh.com, I added the computer I was using to Mesh.
On each PC, I picked a few folders (Documents, Downloads, and Pictures) and right-clicked on them, choosing "Add Folder to Your Live Mesh." It was that easy, I swear.
What's really cool about Mesh is that I could finally sync up my documents, photos, etc. from all my PCs to essentially merge together and become one, big, "meshed" folder. It didn't get all confused that I was syncing up a folder called Documents to another folder called Documents. It just knew what I wanted to do. After syncing, I was surprised at how much duplicate content I had, probably from having to move files to and from PCs the old fashioned way - email, USB drives, via the network, etc.
When conflicts arose, I had the option of viewing both files and choosing which one to keep. But what was really great is that the conflicts weren't displayed as annoying pop-up messages while in the middle of syncing, thank goodness - they were just items in a list that I could review at my leisure.
I'd like the option to keep both copies of some files, but, at the moment, you have to pick one to keep or just leave the conflict be. The only problem with this is that Windows Live Messenger chat logs for the same contact had the same name on different machines and I wanted to keep both logs. Other than that, I could rename documents and photos to resolve the duplicately named, but different, files, but I'm still hoping for a "keep both files" button in a future release.
When viewing a Mesh-enabled folder, a pop-up window appears next to the Windows Explorer window, showing the history of your interactions with the folder (Sarah added this, Sarah deleted that), conflicts, members, and synchronized devices.
Although Mesh is going to do much more than just this syncing in the future, for now, it's providing a great way to keep my files in sync as I move from computer to computer.
I also discovered that I could invite some friends to Mesh by sharing a folder with them, something that could be done from either a PC or my Live Mesh online desktop. If you have Live Mesh and haven't shared your invites, please do so! I know some people who are *dying* for them.
If you want to learn more about Mesh and its future, I found the article and interview by Steve Gillmor, speaking with Microsoft Mesh lead David Treadwell (who should really start blogging again) absolutely fascinating. Be warned though, this isn't the kind of article you should skim quickly. Save it for when you have some time to grab a cup of coffee, sit down, read, re-read, and really take it all in. It's worth it, I promise. If that sounds like something you would like to do in that alternative universe where you can actually sit down and read things, well then, just go get the podcast and listen to it on your commute instead.