Details of the announcement are everywhere, but here are the highlights for me:
- The core of the concept is a virtual desktop hosted in Microsoft's data centers, to which you connect any compatible device (PC, mobile, etc., but Windows only for now).
- Within that desktop, folders can be created which allow you to store whatever you want to share (documents, photos, videos, music, etc.) among your devices.
- Folders can even be shared with other friends or family members using a social network built into the mesh.
- The mesh uses a two way RSS/ATOM mechanism (FeedSync) to sync not only files, but also applications between devices
This is ambitious as hell, and I have to give "the band" credit for their vision. While tried and true MS "lock-'em-in...lock-'em-all-in" hardcore, it is a completely different sound than what Google, Amazon and even Intuit have released. Its a place to live in the cloud, rather than simply a stopping point. And, while the open source community is rightfully skeptical, there are hundreds of thousands of Microsoft loyal developers out there who will make this thing work for them. That, in turn, creates a market that the rest of the cloud would do well to keep an eye on.
So, now I see the following experiments in the nascent cloud market:
- Amazon: Pure Capacity-On-Demand with scalable components available ala carte
- Mosso: Pure Capacity-On-Demand in a hosted model with flat rate for normal usage
- Google: Platform-as-a-Service targeted at Internet facing web applications and optimizing developer experience for highly scalable web application development and deployment
- Intuit: Platform-as-a-Service targeted at Internet facing financial applications using their QuickBooks platform
- Microsoft: Virtual Desktop and Platform-as-a-Service targeted at providing a complete online compute environment from a end user point of view