Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 09:48 UK

Developers question Mesh openness

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Live Mesh code
Microsoft say Live Mesh will unite devices online

Developers have questioned the commitment to openness in Microsoft's Live Mesh service, which is designed to bridge the offline and online worlds.

The company's new service, that will synch all of a user's devices and applications to produce a seamless framework, was unveiled at Web 2.0.

Microsoft has said the service will use open standards and be rolled out to Windows machines, Macs and mobiles.

But developers at the conference said they needed more detail about openness.

"I have just seen the cookie cutter slide show, " says start up entrepreneur Ola Agayi "and it has promise but I haven't had the chance to play around with it. It's certainly an interesting concept."

JC Herz
It's what they have always been trying to do which is own the pie
JC Herz

Developer JC Herz, of BatchTags, said she was worried about openness and Microsoft's role in controlling so much of people's information.

"It's what they have always been trying to do which is own the pie. I think the main thing with Live Mesh is to benchmark all the talk about "open".

"The great thing about openness is that is something that is very easy to verify which is different from 10 or 20 years ago."

She added: "The proof is in the pudding but at the moment it's all demo ware and advertising."

The fact that Live Mesh is not available on Mac at launch was not missed by many in the audience who commented on the fact that the slide show included an Apple icon.

Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is one of the leading web development conferences

"The promise is it will work on any platform and on a Mac and until it does I am in a wait and see mode," said Ms Agayi.

For Aydin Senkut, founder of Felicis, Ventures, the issue of compatibility was also concerning.

"As long as they innovate and it is an open platform that is compatible with other devices and other companies like Apple then I think it's great. I think they realise this and that they have to add value to people or they won't be able to keep up the strength of their brand."

Sam Pullara from Yahoo was not impressed by what he saw in the 15-minute demonstration, and he said that did not have anything to do with Microsoft's bid to buy the company he works for.

"I am a Mac man and frankly I have completely given up on Windows. To me it looks a lot like dotMac for the Apple and I think it will be a lot harder to execute well because Windows machines are just so different from one another."

Microsoft Live Mesh general manager
It's not just the Mac, it's also going to work on mobile devices and a lot of other devices in the future
Amit Mital, Microsoft

Microsoft's Live Mesh general manager Amit Mital told BBC News that the firm was committed to openness and said there was a need for developers to get on board.

"We hope people will look at the platform and the capabilities and think about new imaginative ways of building applications that will benefit our customers."

At an earlier demonstration of the product to an audience of developers, he said: "Today we live in the world of the web and the web is at the centre of everything we do.

" It is how we connect with the people we care about, access the data that matters to us and also accesses many of the applications we use on a daily basis. And the way we connect with the web is via a number of devices."

Mr Mital went on to point out the common sense need for Live Mesh at least for himself, if no one else.

" I have two laptops at work. I have a computer at home. I have a smart phone. I have many, many devices. Unfortunately when I add a new device to this collection, at least initially, my life becomes harder not easier."

Aydin Senkut agreed that the product was "much needed".

"It is crazy that all of us have multiple computers at work and other devices at home like our phone, our photos and videos, our files and access is not all pervasive. We should be able in this age to access all of that from any device anywhere."

Mr Mital told BBC News that he saw Live Mesh as "the tip of the iceberg".

"One of the things we wanted to do was build a product that is relevant to a very broad audience and to the web community in general and so it's not just the Mac, it's also going to work on mobile devices and a lot of other devices in the future."

Live Mesh is being privately tested by a core group of about several thousand with a public test expected later in the year. Over the next couple of days those attending Web 2.0 will be able to give Live Mesh a run for its money.


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