The end is near, but not imminent. Users of Microsoft's free Live Mesh Beta service to synchronize their files and folders between multiple computers, and to remotely control their computers, have until March 31, 2011, to "upgrade" to Windows Live Mesh 2011 or switch to a different service.
Why is this date important? If, like me, you are a happy user of Live Mesh Beta and at least one of your computers runs Windows XP (as do both my notebook and netbook), you will be out of luck with Windows Live Mesh 2011. It doesn't support XP. You need either Vista or Windows 7.
That wouldn't ordinarily be much of a problem. Windows 7 is a very nice OS ( I run Win7 Pro on my desktop PC and like it very much) Upgrading from Vista often makes sense. But if your portable machine is a netbook over a year old, odds are it came with XP Home preinstalled and there is not easy upgrade path to Windows 7. You have to do a "clean install" of Windows 7, unless you want to upgrade first to Vista, then to Windows 7, a somewhat convoluted process that has little to recommend it. And then you have the question of whether your pre-Pine Trial netbook or aging notebook will be able to run Windows 7 adequately. If your netbook or notebook runs XP just find with its 1 GB of RAM, it will struggle with Windows 7, and you may not have the hard drive space for Windows 7 plus all of you apps and data.
So what is the solution? Perhaps it is time to buy a new netbook or notebook? Well, I think the hardware in my ThinkPad R61i (XP Pro) and Toshiba Mini 10 (XP Home) still have plenty of life left in them. At least running XP, they do. I doubt that either would be especially good at running Windows 7, although both have 2 GB of RAM, at least making that a possibility. But why invest between $100 and $200 into each, go through the bother of a clean install (backing everything up, installing Windows 7, reinstalling all of my many applications, then restoring my data, if I cannot be sure Windows 7 will perform adequately?
Maybe the answer is to switch (at least for the next year to 18 months until I am ready to upgrade to a nice Windows 7 notebook or netbook) to another file sync service. The leading contenders are Dropbox and SugarSync. There are several comparison tests available on the web between these two services. A comparison review from January picks SugarSync. Another comparison in February is neutral. Yet another from July adds Syncplicity to the mix, but leans a bit in favor of SugarSync. Of the available options, it seem as if SugarSync works the most like Live Mesh Beta. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be quite as seamless in letting me to simply right-click to select folders in Windows Explorer I want to sync between my three computers. There is a similar process with SugarSync, but from the on-line info, you need to be in SugarSync's manager application to select sync folders. SugarSync has a free 30 day trial, so my next step is to give it a try (perhaps running it along side Live Mesh Beta) to see if it will work for me. I will report back on my findings.