Microsoft Live Mesh review

The Stuff.tv inbox got one of the first beta invites for Mesh today, Microsoft's latest attempt at world domination (or at least, a decent stab at get

The Stuff.tv inbox got one of the first beta invites for Mesh today, Microsoft's latest attempt at world domination (or at least, a decent stab at getting us to forgive Vista).Mesh aims to sync all your files, whether they're on your desktop, laptop or mobile. At this stage in the game, it's only available via your browser or a Windows PC, but in coming months we'll see it launch for mobile devices (Windows Mobile 6.1, we'll wager) and (gasp) Mac.Sign in to Mesh using your Windows Live ID, and you're prompted to download and install a 1.6MB file to your PC. Do as your told, and a glowing blue orb appears in your taskbar. That may fool you into thinking that you're syncing files, but nothing has happened yet - to kick-start Mesh, you need to right-click on the file or folder you want kept on the remote servers (at which point, in Vista at least, the chosen folder turns an electric blue). Uploads are as quick as your broadband connection will allow.Roll over the blue orb and a pop-up panel appears, keeping you in the loop every time a significant new batch of files are handed over. You're given 5GB of space as a beta tester (no idea what's planned for public release), and we made the mistake of choosing a folder that took hours to upload and eat 95 per cent of the space. Silly, silly us.The Live Desktop experience (see screenshot) is the nearest thing we've seen to the real thing: the browser-based finder windows are skinned a la Vista, and work in the same way. You'll find Vista's Organise and View drop-downs, although they're considerably curtailed when compared to the real Vista desktop. Creating new folders through your browser is a doddle, and the whole thing is snappier than any Vista PC we've manhandled.Adding your Windows desktop or laptop to Mesh is straightforward: click add device, and it automagically fills in the name of the PC you're using. Say OK, and it your machine appears as one of the options when you log in to Mesh. But there's one current limitation that'll annoy Mac-ites - attempt to log into that machine from a remote desktop, and you'll be asked to use Internet Explorer (Mesh uses Active X to perform the party trick, a technology that doesn't run on the Mac).Help files aren't exactly thick on the ground right now, but doubtless Microsoft will sort that situation come release time. For now, Mesh must rate as one of Microsoft's cooler recent ventures; let's just hope that they deliver on the mobile and Mac compatibility very soon.