I’ve been learning a bit about Microsoft’s Live Mesh platform. From what I can tell it’s incredibly ambitious. Basically it’s a cloud computing platform that enables peer to peer file sharing, seemingly limitless application scalability and file synchronisation across devices. The synchronisation part is currently the most touted aspect. Using this you could for example take a photo on one device then all other synchronised devices (your PC, Laptop, whatever) will have access to it via your own private Intranet of sorts. I think it’s essentially what Apple are also trying to do with Mobile Me.
What interests me most about Mesh though is the scope for using it as a launching pad for developing applications where scaling, file sharing and user access control are no longer an issue. In this video they talk about “Local MOE”, MOE being “Mesh Operating Environment”. Local MOE allows you to run applications offline then when you reconnect it synchs up with “Cloud MOE”, a bit like Google Gears, propagating the changes across your Mesh. Just to be clear your Mesh is a collection of folders that can be accessed from anywhere you’ve got the Mesh runtime installed. Synchronisation is achieved using their Atom based technology FeedSync.
Local MOE is interesting because as per the video at 27:40 you can run browser-type applications on localhost. He opens a web app created in HTML and Silverlight on localhost which looks like a regular desktop app. This made me think, wait a minute – is this Microsoft’s answer to Adobe’s AIR? If the user has Mesh installed you can provide them with a “packaged” version of your app that is essentially the same except it runs locally. That’s pretty cool.
My feeling about this is that Mesh combined with Silverlight is a huge game changer in application development. This is Microsoft’s play to dominate cloud computing, basically turning the Internet into an Operating System with Mesh as the File System and Silverlight the GUI. The Midori project represents the natural pairing-down of Windows to accommodate this paradigm shift. Vista now looks even more like a bloated dinosaur about to be superceded by a nimble highly optimised, cloud-oriented equivalent.