There is a lot of functionality in Windows Live Mesh 2011, and all of it attempts to resolve the problem that is often faced by people who own more than one computer – keeping information between the two PCs coordinated. Let’s take a closer look at why Live Mesh 2011 is handy.
Keeping Things in Sync
Microsoft’s previous sync program was called Live Sync, and while short-lived it was very useful. Although not as easy to use as a service such as DropBox, Live Sync let you sync a virtually unlimited amount of data between multiple computers.
Now Live Sync is going away, however, because Windows Live Mesh 2011 is taking over. The actual sync functionality is largely the same as before, but the interface is vastly improved compared to Live Sync. All you have to do to sync a folder with Live Mesh 2011 is click on the “Sync a folder” text near the top of the window on the Status tab.You can then browse your computer for the folder that you’d like to sync. Once you’ve chosen the folder, Live Mesh 2011 will ask you what devices you’d like to sync with. All the PCs that on which you have Live Mesh installed will appear as options, and you’ll also be given the chance to sync the folder with Microsoft SkyDrive.
In addition to syncing file folders, Windows Live Mesh 2011 has added the ability to sync Internet Explorer favorites and Microsoft Office information (such as templates, any personal information you’ve added to auto-fill certain documents, etc). Both of these features are also very easy to use – in fact, all you need to do is click on each option. After the program takes a few seconds to think about what you’ve done you’ll be informed that syncing is turned on. And that’s it – now your Internet Explorer favorites and Office preferences are shared between any computers on which you’ve installed Windows Live Mesh 2011.
Access Your Computers Remotely
A new feature added to Windows Live Mesh 2011 is the ability to access any computer you’ve installed the program on remotely from any other computer you own. Remote access has been possible in Windows previously under the name Remote Desktop Services or Terminal Services, but is only enabled in certain versions of Windows and is targeted towards IT professionals and computer enthusiasts rather than the average user.
To access a computer remotely you only need to click the Connect to this computer text. Windows Live Mesh 2011 will establish a connection to the other computer, which will take a few moments. You can only establish connections to computers that have a password protected Windows account set up.
Windows Live Mesh 2011 does not have to be actively running on the computer you wish to remotely access, but the program must be installed and associated with your Windows Live account. If someone is already logged in to the PC you’re trying to access remotely they will be informed of your access attempt and given the chance to log out or deny your request for a remote connection.
The remote connection controls are fairly basic. At the top of the remote access window is a control bar, and there are just a few options available. The most important is probably the icon that looks like a set of keys. Clicking this will activate Ctrl-Alt-Delete on the remote PC. Next to that is a magnifying glass which makes it possible to slightly alter how the remote desktop is displayed, and the final icon to the right lets you maximum the remote access window.
I personally used Windows Live Sync to keep several of my folders synced between my PCs and I was happy with the program overall. Windows Live Mesh 2011, however, is a dramatic improvement. It is much easier to use, contains some useful additional features, adds the ability to access your PCs remotely – a huge boon! Maybe Microsoft can make some decent software after all.