Microsoft unveiled a preview of ‘Live Mesh’, its latest effort to shed its image as a desktop-focused company and expand into web-based services. The Redmond giant says the service, which is still in limited test mode, will allow people to share and create documents or applications across different devices using the web to connect them.
The move concludes two years of research led by software architect Ray Ozzie. It comes as Microsoft faces increasing competition from the likes of Amazon, Google and Salesforce that offer web-based office and consumer applications also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
“Over the past 10 years, the PC era has given way to an era in which the web is at the centre of our experiences,” Ozzie told staff in a strategic memo. So far, the service is free and consumer-focused, but Microsoft says it is exploring several business models including advertising or paid subscriptions.
Eventually, Microsoft hopes that Live Mesh will allow developers, businesses and consumers to create and store apps across different web browsers and various electronic devices, including mobile phones, TVs, game consoles and Mac computers. So far, the service only synchronises Windows PCs. It also requires a Windows Live ID, although Microsoft says it may make it compatible with the OpenID initiative.
However, the effort fails to impress Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff. “After a decade of using their monopoly to stop [software-as-a-service] innovation through false prophecy and rhetoric, Microsoft has relented by delivering a service that is still too little too late,” he told CNET.
Some 10,000 developers are testing Live Mesh, which Microsoft hopes to open up in beta mode in late Oct.