New Synchronisation Idea Overlooked By Microsoft Live team
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New Synchronisation Idea Overlooked By Microsoft Live team

folder sharemeshsky drive

Microsoft's Live team have lots of different offerings that let you synchronize your information from one place to another.

They've got Live Mesh, for sharing 'your digital world' here there and everywhere.

They've got Sky Drive, which lets you share files with yourself, your friends, anyone.

There's folder share, the start up company they bought out which does more or less the same thing.

There's something called office live workspace which lets you sync and collaborate and something else.

There's synctoy, which uses Sync Services for File Systems. It's a kind of Robocopy on downers, with a UI.

And then there's the grand daddy of all of these -- Ray Ozzie's offering, Groove.

Holy Fracking Jesus, Microsoft!

There's clearly one Synchronisation concept that escaped them completely.

They could've gotten together as a team, shared their ideas, and realized: Oh Crap! We're all building different versions of the same thing.

Instead of creating a tangle of overlapping and unmergeable products, why didn't they synchronise their thinking and work out what problem they're trying to solve.

And then build one compelling product, that's a joy to use, and which clearly solves that problem.


Not to mention sharepoint which let's you, well, share. Up to a point.

And, microsoft/ford sync for talking to your cars.

Or Microsoft Sync Framework.

Or, Live Labs Listas which helps you share lists.

Or, ActiveSync, which well, sows frustration and despair on mobile devices everywhere.

groovelive workspacessynctoy




'Andrew' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 12:22:14 GMT, sez:

Here her brother. I was just installing Foldershare the other day and thought about Live Mesh and Skydrive.

Get a clue MS! Foldershare and Mesh as still non-intuative when you start using them (not tried Skydrive). Let's just get *one* product right, hey?

Jeez, scalp some UX people from Apple - they seem to think they know it all... (although, don't get me started on the iTunes UX)



'Josh Bush' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 12:24:30 GMT, sez:

Wow, I had no idea that Microsoft had so many ways to sync. Just wait until they finally do get together and make a single product. The marketing department will produce yet another horribly long product name. My vote is for "Microsoft Live Sharepoint Sync Services 2008" and then the dev api will be called "Microsoft Live Sharepoint Sync Services Framework for .NET"



'DylanW' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 13:24:49 GMT, sez:

Good point. There was another blog post I saw about this same topic from a slightly different angle: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/05/01.html

I understand they want to build something easy to use and accessible to the average user, but I have a hard time caring about any of it. I've got SFTP, rsync, and Subversion available on a Linux box at the house--usable on any platform, with standard tools, from anywhere. From my perspective, there are already a lot of solutions out there to solve this problem.



'Ben' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 13:27:00 GMT, sez:

Heh! More and more I'm starting to wonder about poor Microsoft. They are just to big and to sprawled for their own good.



'Joel Martinez' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 13:37:21 GMT, sez:

Well said! I've tried to be excited for some of these products ... but this terrible platform strategy/marketing has just left me confused and frustrated. I don't trust *any* of those products to stay around long enough to start using them.



'George Tsiokos' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 13:38:06 GMT, sez:

I hope Live Mesh wins, since file sync is only one application of the platform...



'Spellboots' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 17:58:54 GMT, sez:

Yup they should be taking some tips from Apple - check out me.com. It seems like Apple actually did grasp the concept that MS missed ;)



'John thomas' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 20:01:26 GMT, sez:

LOL, doesn't surprise me in the least. Seems they could take some clue from Apple.

JT
http://www.FireMe.To/udi



'John Giotta' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 20:16:07 GMT, sez:

I'm going take a stab and say this is the effect of a divided company. Courts forced MS to divide due to monopoly allegations. So now you have 3 or 4 divisions working on software tailored for some divisional asset.



'Don't Hate' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 21:11:46 GMT, sez:

I'm sorry to break this to you dumb asses, but Office Live Workspaces is BUILT on SharePoint.

http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepointdesigner/archive/2007/04/11/office-live-and-sharepoint.aspx



'lb' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 21:36:58 GMT, sez:

@Don't hate
I'm glad someone offered some kind of lashback. I think what I wrote above is a bit too bilious, really.

But I think there are symptoms of Architecture Astronautics at work here.

They're trying to build a platform -- in a kind of belief that when the platform is correct, then the apps will be sweet.

But users don't care about platform.

Synctoy is built on a sweet little file syncing platform -- but it's usability is poor, and it's inferior to other offerings that are out there already (which didn't require a platform on which to operate)

What prompted this discussion, is that i do have problems I want to solve in syncing -- and I want to turn to the microsoft stack to solve them -- but i don't know where to start. There's so many bits and pieces, I just want to walk away from the whole set.

But I will look further into this, and if I get something working I'll blog in a positive way.



'Patrick Jakubowski' on Wed, 11 Jun 2008 23:29:59 GMT, sez:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Live Mesh uses your SkyDrive space as storage for its syncing capabilities. Still, I've noticed this same thing too and it's silly.



'Anonymous' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 02:30:46 GMT, sez:

MS does this type of stuff all the time. They claim externally that they do this type of overlapping in order to let the market prove one product over another. The real truth is that their teams are fiefdoms. At best they are just ignorant of what each other is doing, at worst they are fighting with each other.



'zlaya' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 03:39:26 GMT, sez:

it sounds to me like the powers that be want us to start using internet more and more to store data...

soon enough there won't be any storage on PCs it'll all be online

while NSE is sniffing everything HAHAHA



'Aaronontheweb' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 03:57:48 GMT, sez:

Microsoft needs to sync the sync. I guess that's the most succinct way of summing up this article.



'klang' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 04:26:03 GMT, sez:

How about TeamShare which let's you share documents..



'Alistair' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 04:26:12 GMT, sez:

Man, I have IM, Email, twitter, postcards, plain old A4 letters, telephone, mobile phone, ears and mouth. How many frakkin ways do I need to communicate?

But seriously, each thing has its place:

Groove is a v4 team offline/online collaboration application that you can buy, deploy and use today.

Skydrive is a network share in the sky. Available today, but is as sync'y as the network share in your backoffice.

Sync Framework is a way for you to add offline/online abilities to your applications. in community preview. (aka not released yet)

Live Mesh is a tech preview of some things that are cooking in the live team. Also not released yet.



'Don2' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 04:51:56 GMT, sez:

@Alistair
>each thing has its place:

Skydrive and Foldershare clearly overlap. Don't they?



'understand offline/online files' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 04:55:09 GMT, sez:

You left out offline network files features in Vista.

It's a really nice feature that could've benefited from Sync Services for File Systems or vice versa.



'KiL' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 05:18:13 GMT, sez:

[quote]
synchronise their thinking and work out what problem they're trying to solve.

And then build one compelling product, that's a joy to use, and which clearly solves that problem.
[/quote]

Sorry, but Microsoft doesn't work that way. All they do is buying out other companies to use their product(s) to crush other competitors or give the product away to make that market unattractive to competitors.

The process you described happens at companies like Apple. ;-)



'Jeff Atwood' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 05:35:49 GMT, sez:

> And then build one compelling product, that's a joy to use, and which clearly solves that problem.

Erm, you DO realize this is Microsoft you're talking about here, right?



'Iceschade' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 06:25:25 GMT, sez:

And here I am, thinking "we've had this technology since at least the 1980s with CVS and now with SVN."

Yeah, SVN is intended to be used to track version changes with ease in large projects (mainly for software development), but it does everything that Apple's Time Travel can do, if you know how to use it, and it came around almost a decade ago.

So here, we Unix people have had SVN and CVS to sync our files from system to system, even to share user-to-user, so that everyone's files are up-to-date...

And Apple and Microsoft are JUST NOW catching up?

(Granted, SVN and CVS weren't built with some flashy eye-candy to entertain you while it works, but if anyone wants it they can easily build a flashy eye-candy CLIENT to go with it.)

I'm surprised and appalled every time I see some new "Feature" that Apple or Microsoft comes out with that just happened to exist in Unix systems a decade (or more) earlier.

Everyone gets all excited about it and hails the Company as a genius innovator, when really all they're doing is reproducing pre-existing tech.

How underwhelming. And how depressing that Microsoft is failing so wholeheartedly.



'Rick Cain' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 12:49:17 GMT, sez:

Simple marketing. MS creates a bunch of products, lets call them "turds" and then throws them at the wall and see how many stick. Most fall off, but one or two stay on the wall long enough to be successful products.
Their history is littered with software experiments which used paying customers as beta testers.
Ah the joys of using anything from Microsoft that has a V1.0 version!



'Fin' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 13:52:42 GMT, sez:

Don't forget about Windows Roaming Profiles (aka Roaming User Profiles) - http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsServer/en/library/b41402c2-c982-4bfb-891e-91b47f211e181033.mspx?mfr=true , wherein a user's "profile" (my docs, desktop, user registry etc.) get "sync"ed down from the Big Server to the desktop when you log in, and get "sync"ed back up when you log off.

A good idea badly done, as:
* very odd things happen if you decide to login to two machines at once and then "sync" them back
* the "sync" feels more like a copy, as logging in and out can take a suspiciously long time
* sometimes a windows file lock prevents a profile from syncing properly, so it shows a very obscure message briefly then gives you a "default" profile, or an older cached copy of your profile - in the worse case you can end up with several versions of your profile on a given workstation, and which one you get (which settings, which desktop files).

And even if they do work, because they're not very well used then all to many windows programmers write code that breaks when they're around - http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/06/30/434209.aspx



'Erikk' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 19:36:09 GMT, sez:

This gives me a syncng feeling. Oh dear.



'Dom' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 23:40:27 GMT, sez:

This is just too funny. The article was funny, but the comments are even funnier!

When IE finally catches up with FF3, probably IE V11 or V12 or there abouts, we'll also seeing offline storage capability for web apps. Of course offline almost always infers a syncing capability too.

So how many sync solutions is that now? 13? 14? 15?



'lb' on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 23:45:40 GMT, sez:

cheers Dom.

There's also something called "DFSR"
Distributed File System Replication
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb540025.aspx

Also, this article is currently getting slammed with traffic from Reddit:

http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/info/6mz4a/comments/

There's about 200 comments there.



'Microsoft SharedView' on Fri, 13 Jun 2008 03:50:39 GMT, sez:

Shared View:

Microsoft SharedView is a fast, easy way to share documents and screen views with small groups of friends or coworkers; anytime, anywhere. Use SharedView to put your heads together and collaborate - create, convey, and communicate…across physical boundaries, through firewalls, and down to the smallest details.



'Niq' on Fri, 13 Jun 2008 06:26:12 GMT, sez:

I think the different types of synchronization have been developed to handle different types of collaboration , you cant compare groove, which is intended for localized collaboration and Sharepoint which is for online collaboration for documents that are meant to be in a more "complete" stage or the beining of ECM if it is managed right. I think you must have a further in depth look at their projects before you just label them as "Synchronization" and lump them together.



'lb' on Fri, 13 Jun 2008 07:40:40 GMT, sez:

@Niq -- i'd like to agree, but i think the marketing of these products ought to make the strategic targets clear, yet it doesn't.

the marketing instead sweeps in with grandiose statements for each one, so they all get branded as essentially:

"enable individual or teams to work together in any fashion over any network topology with any sort of information, be it documents, files or applications."
(i'm paraphrasing here)

In the technical details there are certainly big differences, but by then it's too late: marketing has failed. and sales is left cleaning up the mess. so, ultimately, devs and users suffer.



'lb' on Sat, 14 Jun 2008 03:51:19 GMT, sez:

@Patrick: "Live Mesh uses your SkyDrive space as storage for its syncing capabilities"

Nope, turns out it doesn't.

It's possible that SkyDrive will become a device you can sync to your Live Mesh, but it's not how it works today.



'Clinton Gallagher' on Tue, 17 Jun 2008 15:53:29 GMT, sez:

Its called psychosis.



'Janne' on Tue, 29 Jul 2008 06:19:59 GMT, sez:

Here's one more that has been around since Windows 95 and it's still Windows Vista: just right-click on your Desktop and choose New->Briefcase! "The primary purpose of Briefcase is to sync files between a desktop computer and a mobile PC."
To me it seems Microsoft has completely lost it. Not only are there 10+ different half-ready ways to sync. Think about the many ways there are to store calendars and contacts! The contacts folder in Vista, Outlook Contacts, Windows Live Contacts, Windows Calendar, Windows Live Calendar, Windows Live Beta Calendar, Windows Outlook Calendar. Of course, Windows Calendar can't be synced at all, Live Calendar Beta can be synced with outlook (since a few days ago) but not with your Mobile Phone. Outlook Calendar can't sync with Live Calendar. Etc.



'lb' on Tue, 20 Jan 2009 22:48:03 GMT, sez:

update:
FolderShare has been 'rebranded' (actually its a different product) as 'Sync.Live.Com'

Like //that's// gonna clear up the confusion.

Marketing materials include this statement "You can think of Windows Live Sync as FolderShare 2.0" -- which is funny because it's not a version increase, and if it is thought of as a version increase then it's a very breaking version change.

So it's best //not// to think of it as FolderShare 2.0.

It's just more spaghetti hitting the wall.






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