After weeks of little more than broad hints and rampant speculation, Microsoft is preparing to show off its new Mesh initiative -- signaling that the company is poised to jump in and get its feet wet with a potentially far-ranging data synchronization technology.
Company officials plan to make an announcement regarding the strategy this week, during the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.
The concept is that all of a user's devices -- from mobile phones to game consoles –- should link with each other and all of the user's social activities, producing a seamless framework for both personal and business access anywhere, anytime.
Judging from the press invitations sent out in recent weeks, the company has named the new product "Live Mesh". Given the company's orientation of the "Live" moniker around its generally consumer-focused "cloud" services, it's probably a safe bet that Live Mesh refers to a free or ad-supported offering –- at least for now.
In fact, posters on Windows Live enthusiast site LiveSide.net speculated that Live Mesh will debut within the next week or two as a "technology preview" or a private beta test.
"Mesh is the network that runs across Horizon [a cloud-based service], allowing users to link their devices for sharing files and folders amongst other things," the LiveSide blog post said.
"Live Mesh will sync information across computers and devices, and store information in the cloud, accessible from the Web," according to another poster on LiveSide.
Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie said almost as much in two recent speeches.
"We need to think of the Web as ... the hub of our social experiences, our social mesh, [and] the hub of our technology experiences, our device mesh," Ozzie told the audience during his keynote speech at Microsoft's MIX08 conference last month in Las Vegas.
"All applications -- ours and yours -- will incorporate the group-forming aspect of the Web: linking, sharing, ranking, tagging on the Web will become as familiar to all of us as file, edit and view on the PC," he said.
Ozzie added that the device mesh would incorporate everything "from phones and PCs to smart TVs, DVRs, media centers, game consoles, digital picture frames, pocket media players, digital cameras and camcorders, ... home servers, car entertainment and navigation systems."
Meanwhile, last week at Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Summit in Seattle, Ozzie expanded slightly on his earlier remarks, though he still didn't paint a complete picture of what Live Mesh will be about.
"Thinking around the social mesh and how to weave things like shared content spaces, tagging, ranking of content, publish and subscribe of information from public sources, all sorts of new capabilities ... there are a core set of services in the social realm that pretty much every product has the opportunity to integrate that change the nature of the experience," Ozzie said.
As an example of how mesh technologies could be useful, he cited the company's entertainment strategy, that "brings together devices from the Xbox to the TV or the Zune [music player] ... for media sharing and gaming, essentially using the Internet as a hub."
Yet without specifics from Ozzie or other execs, Microsoft followers have been forced to turn elsewhere for any hint of detail.
LiveSide bloggers have even gone so far as to scrutinize the new Live Mesh logo -- comparing it to the logo for Microsoft's Silverlight browser media streaming technology and theorizing that, given the two logos' similarity and the vast scope of Ozzie's vision, Silverlight somehow may be an element of the new service.
"Of course, there are many questions unanswered at this point," LiveSide bloggers noted. "Storage space is one."
Fortunately, the wait may be almost over.