Ray opens the conversation by reflecting on his transition to Microsoft three years ago, and on the roles he and Craig Mundie will play as they jointly inherit Bill Gates’ responsibilities.
Next the conversation turns to a meme that Tim O’Reilly once evangelized: the Internet operating system. That phrase never resonated as powerfully as Web 2.0 did, but the ideas behind it are becoming realities. Ray applauds the work that Amazon and Google have done in this area. And he talks about how Microsoft’s legacy as a platform company, dedicated to helping developers succeed, will influence its approach.
In that context, Ray explores one piece of Microsoft’s emerging Internet operating system: the newly-announced Live Mesh. Sharing common DNA with earlier projects, notably Groove and before that Notes, Live Mesh is a data synchronizer born to the Web. The objects that it synchronizes are represented as RSS and Atom feeds, and are manipulated with a RESTful API that works symmetrically on local and cloud-based nodes.
Although the most visible Live Mesh application is a file-and-folder synchronizer, Ray notes that this is just one example of an application pattern that can apply equally to the synchronization of custom objects, like calendar events, across all the devices in a mesh. It also applies across the spectrum of application types, ranging from the browser to conventional rich clients to Web-based rich clients like Flash and Silverlight.
There’s another pattern for Live Mesh applications, one that’s less familiar. In this pattern, a website uses Live Mesh as a pipeline to communicate with Live Mesh users. If you’re running a travel site, or a bank, you can use that pipeline to transmit structured data to your users — for example, itineraries or transaction reports. It’s easy to create those XML feeds, you can leverage the Live Mesh infrastructure to deliver them securely and reliably at scale, they synchronize across all devices in each user’s Live Mesh, and they’re accessible to local applications using same RESTful feed APIs that were used to create them.