Microsoft’s three ways to store stuff online

Windows Live Sync has just been released. This is an update to FolderShare, a file synchronization service which Microsoft acquired from Byte Taxi in 2005. The new version supports up to 20 folders and 20,000 files, supports Unicode, and still works on both Windows and Mac. It has also been migrated to Windows Live ID, breaking existing shared access lists and apparently causing much pain for existing users, especially on Macs, judging by the comments here.

But why does Live Sync exist? Most of what it does is a subset of what is available in Live Mesh, which as I understand it is a strategic product. I prefer Mesh, since synchronized files are also stored on the Internet for browser access. Another flaw in Live Sync is that if you enable remote access to folders on your PC that are not sync folders, the files are transferred without encryption.

Finally, let’s not forget SkyDrive, free online storage of up to 25GB. I use this regularly; it works nicely when you just want to stick some files (especially large ones) on the web without worrying about the complexities of synchronization.

Why doesn’t Microsoft integrate SkyDrive with the Mesh online desktop as an online-only storage area, and scrap Live Sync completely – sorry, “roll its functionality into Live Mesh”, in PR-speak?

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