While Microsoft eventually hopes its Live Mesh effort will be a way for people to share data across all of their devices, the service that launches next week will be limited in several ways, CNET News.com has learned.
Next week, Microsoft will launch a pre-beta "technology preview" open to about 10,000 testers in the U.S., according to a source familiar with the company's plans.
File synchronization is an important component of Mesh, but not its only feature, the source said. Developers will be able to write their own applications for Live Mesh, with the idea that applications written for Mesh can then be accessed by a number of different devices.
Another key aspiration for Live Mesh is that it work with more than just Microsoft products. Out of the gate it will work with "multiple browsers," the source said. Initially it will be limited to XP and Vista PCs as well as Windows Mobile phones, however Microsoft wants to add Mac support as well more types of phones and even other devices, such as MP3 players.
Live Mesh is also not just a space for linking one's own devices and information. Users will be able to invite friends to share parts of their Mesh.
"Just imagine the possibilities of unified application management across the device mesh, centralized, Web-based deployment of device-based applications," he said. "Imagine an app platform that's cognizant of all of your devices. Now, as it so happens, we've had a team at Microsoft working on this specific scenario for some time, starting with the PC and focused on the question of how we might make life so much easier for individuals if we just brought together all your PCs into a seamless mesh, for users, for developers, using the Web as a hub."
The company will have more to say at Web 2.0 Expo next week, as well as at an April 24 event, both taking place in San Francisco. A Microsoft representative said the company did not have any comment ahead of its events next week.