When Microsoft launched Windows Live Sync in beta at the end of June, it merged it with its long-awaited Windows Live Mesh, but both still kept separate branding. The product will take on the Windows Live Mesh branding in the next couple of months. There are a few other changes coming too.
Right now Windows Live Sync, which is already being used by 240,000 people in beta, syncs files between PCs or between PCs and the cloud (mobile will be added later, but that is the ultimate vision). Syncing between PCs is unlimited, but syncing to the cloud up till now has been capped at 2 gigabytes per account. That will soon be increased to 5 gigabytes.
The average person in the beta is syncing only 240 megabytes of data to the cloud, but you can never have too much storage. Between PCs, however, they are syncing 675 files, or 1.2 gigabytes of data, on average. As soon as Microosft adds mobile into the equation, the amount of storage in the cloud will jump considerably, because nobody wants to keep big files on their phone if they can help it.
Windows Live Sync will also be upgraded to sync hidden files and do a better job showing which files are synced and which are syncing at any given time. And on Monday, in a related announcement, Microsoft will be making Hotmail emails, contacts, and calendars available to most mobile phones via Exchange Active Sync, which is a push technology (think IMAP, plus contacts and calendars).
Syncing files and media between devices is a big problem that has yet to be solved completely. Getting all your data on your mobile phone from the cloud will become especially important. But I am not sure the model of picking folders to sync really works. Sometimes you don’t know ahead of time what you will want to access, and you just want to be able to grab anything that is on your computer. Startups like Libox are taking this approach, and already offer a mobile solution, but not yet a cloud backup. Someone will get this right.