IT'S BEEN FIVE WEEKS since I last carried my laptop. I shed the laptop because I need legroom on my bus trips and because I am a little concerned about its fragile operating state. Regular readers of my Twitterstream will know it's just a matter of time before the beast fails. You cannot count on a reliable XP Pro laptop when you have to take out its battery to power it down. That said, I've been on this kind of thin ice before and I have plenty of back-ups. I also know that with an easily-reachable cloud of information and a robust smartphone, I can do the business. Now Microsoft is rolling out a strategy that will make things even easier for road warriors like me. Microsoft plans to take its most ambitious step yet in transforming its personal computer business into one tied more closely to software running in remote data centers. It is called Live Mesh and if it enhances Symbian devices with a web desktop, it will evolve into a game-changing technology.
Live Mesh is a data and storage system that blurs the distinction between software running on the Windows operating system and an elaborate array of services that will be delivered to a growing collection of electronic gadgets. I don't believe it will work on my Nokia E90 unless recent Nokia-Microsoft discussions are just the ticket to ensure high-end business phone owners can connect over Live Mesh.
According to John Markoff, Live Mesh "refers to the movement of software applications and services from PCs to centralized data centers, where they are made available via the Internet." I could buy time on the Live Mesh network.
In a strategy document, Ray Ozzie says, “The Web is the hub of our social mesh and our device mesh." That statement is the first of a set of three “guiding principles” that Mr. Ozzie outlined in the five-page document entitled “Services Strategy Update.” In taking the PC off center stage, Microsoft is refocusing some of its resources to catch its cloud computing rivals.
Live Mesh opens a new front for chief information officers to consider. It's no longer about desktop or client services tethered to a work station. It's a broader concept where services have to be remotely available through browsers. In a month worth of hard use, weaning myself from a desktop environment, I have learned to cherish reliable software on my phone and specialty devices (i.e., Bluetooth printers or remote printing services) to complement my workload.
In this next generation of computing, web-based software will rule the roost. Our XBox 360 programming modules in Tipperary Institute will show how entertainment services can be delivered remotely to televisions. Our creative multimedia degree projects will show how to build content management and e-learning services that will run on low-cost computers, consumer devices and phnoes. We will incorporate a learning news aggregator, a course information window and user-oriented virtual learning applications.
In a very real sense, and in a very short time, all devices will interconnect or be made redundant. I will gladly pay for high-end devices and for services like Live Mesh Remote Desktop to enter this Live Mesh of cloud computing. And I think the consumer electronics space will follow the early adopters down this upgrade path as well.