Ray Ozzie delivers with Live Mesh

Microsoft’s fans are delivered to the promised land.

For three years now I’ve wondered “what is Ray Ozzie up to?” And with this announcement you see just why he’s Microsoft’s CTO. Yeah, there are about 100 smart people working on Microsoft’s new “Live Mesh” which was turned on tonight, but this is Ray’s coming out party, as much as anything.

It also gives key insights into how Microsoft is going to keep Windows relevant and keep us all from sliding into a Web that doesn’t rely much on the underlying operating system. Will Microsoft succeed in that? Well, they better otherwise we’re all very close to washing Microsoft out of our hair: forever.

It’s very hard to explain it all in a few words. It took 1.5 hours this morning for them to peel off the covers and show me all of Mesh’s feed goodness and start to explain what’s coming. What Mesh is today is mostly some end user functionality that looks like Plaxo Pulse done right, but if you stop right there and either get excited or dismiss it, you’ll miss the point entirely.

Yes, the synchronization features that most of you will notice when you start up the Live Mesh are pretty cool. Unfortunately they aren’t even close to being finished. Mac support? Coming in the future. Nokia support? Unclear. iPhone support? Ask Steve Jobs (translation: will be very limited due to Apple’s complete control of that platform). Firefox support? Yes! Linux support? What’s that?

When you start up the Mesh you get a desktop and you can build a new folder and you can drag stuff into that folder and share it. Simple enough. Then you can add a piece of software to each of your machines (XP or Vista right now only, Mac later this year) and that folder will be automatically synced.

But if you stop right there you’ll say “isn’t that like FolderShare?” Yes, it is.

Keep looking.

There’s a Window that has news generated by the sync system. Hmm, this looks vaguely familiar. Sorta like Facebook’s news feed. With a dash of Twitter thrown in. Funny that they showed me a prototype of how Twitter and Facebook items could be shoved in there. Oh!

Let’s keep looking.

There’s a way to wrap up Web sites into a sandbox’ed app and take them offline. Oh, cool.

So, what’s doing this? MOE!

The “Mesh Operating Environment.”

What does it have? An HTTP server (aka a Web server). That lets the Mesh run stuff that’s offline.

And MOE also has handlers for many wire formats including ATOM, JSON, FeedSync, RSS, WB-XML, and POX.

Now wait a second. This thing understands feeds underneath its covers! And it’s not just one way RSS the way, say, Google Reader treats RSS. It’s a new two-way system that both receives Atom (default) or RSS feeds from other MOE’s as well as sends them out to other MOEs.

And, everything has a URI so you can subscribe to everything in the system with, say, Google Reader. Hmmm. I wonder what Dave Winer will think about this system.

We haven’t even gotten into the developer SDK. They spent about an hour showing me how to build new kinds of syncable apps on top of the Mesh in a variety of tools.

Now you’re just getting a taste of how Microsoft is going to use the Mesh to stay relevant. It is bringing its developers onto the Internet in an interesting new way.

Is this ready for mom and dad to run? I’d wait, this needs some major testing and hashing out. But developers should absolutely take a look at this.

Several Microsofties pointed out that this is only a small portion of the Mesh strategy that’ll be revealed in October at Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference.

TechCrunch’s initial post is now up
, and that Microsoft will have several videos on its Channel 9 Website. UPDATE: Here’s the first with Ray Ozzie. Keep tuned to Twitter all night, cause we’ll discuss this in depth 140 characters at a time.

UPDATE: I didn’t even mention the identity system, er, social network underneath this.

UPDATE2: Mary Jo Foley has “10 things you need to know about Mesh.”

UPDATE3: It’s already on TechMeme, with tons of other info linked off of there.

UPDATE4: it’s fun to watch the news flow. Here’s a search for Microsoft Mesh on FriendFeed. Here’s one on TweetScan, which shows every Twitter message that mentions Microsoft Mesh. Here’s Google Blog Search, which shows all blogs that mention Microsoft Mesh.

UPDATE5: On10.net, another Microsoft video site, has a video demo that’s similar to the one I got today.

UPDATE6: the Mesh team has its own blog.

Jeff Sandquist already got things underway on Twitter.

I’m sure we’ll do some Qik videos tonight too to show off some of why I say this demonstrates Microsoft has a compelling Internet platform and strategy now.


Ray Ozzie’s day in the Mesh

Later today Microsoft will bring out the Mesh. They are being pretty cagey about the details (I learn more at an 8 a.m. meeting, and from what it sounds like they will embargo everything until around 9 p.m. Pacific Time tonight.

So, what is it? Well, there certainly is lots of speculation on blogs. I’ll stay out of that business until I get a look for myself.

One thing I’ve heard is that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s coming from Ray Ozzie’s team. Which is why Rocky and me are headed up to Seattle on June 10-12 (to get a closer look at Microsoft’s Internet strategies, and meet up with a bunch of startups).