One of the features of Microsoft’s Mesh is to provide a remote desktop connection to any of your devices via the Live Desktop. That amounts to being able to remote desktop from any of the supported browsers. Microsoft’s Windows Home Server already provides me with this experience and whilst I can’t say I’ve used it a lot – it has helped me out a few times in a big way.
I had assumed that the technology involved in the Window Home Server remote desktop via the browser was the same technology that would be powering Window Live Mesh. Whether it is or not I can’t tell – but the user experience is certainly different.
When you connect to Live Mesh it starts a remote desktop session in a window – complete with the standard “Mesh” sidebar window “clipped” onto the right hand edge. What’s odd though is that the remote desktop uses the resolution of the remote hardware and is scaled to fit in the window – and the scaling does not preserve the aspect ratio. So in my scenario – lets say I connect to my home desktop via my Fujitsu Lifebook. That means I’m viewing a 1920×1200 + 1280×1024 multi-monitor desktop on a laptop screen with a resolution of 1024×768. Umm… not very useful – showing a 3200×1200 very wide desktop squished to a 1024×768 display. It has a mode that allows switching between actual and fixed size – but at those resolutions its kinda akin to using remote desktop from a PDA into a PC – peering through a tiny window and endless scrolling.
Another point of difference is that unlike a standard remote desktop connection is that for the Live Mesh to recognize the devices it appears that you have to be signed in on each device. So no chance of using wake-on-LAN to get your machine up and running and ready to connect. You’d also have to have it auto-logon – hmm… suitable for my Media Center PC maybe – but not something I’d want on my other devices.
In fact the more I play with this, the more I begin to think its not really remote desktop as we know it. For starters the remote machine stays active – i.e. mouse moves and everything you’re doing on the remote desktop can be seen on the remote machine – unless you click the “Hide desktop on remote device” button.
Secondly, its so much slower than a standard remote desktop. Even using it on a LAN its painfully slow to render the desktop background – yep that’s right its rendering everything using bitmaps – and there doesn’t seem to be any configuration options?
Thirdly, because it really just seems to be screen scraping the remote device (as opposed to actually logging in and creating a new virtual session) it means you get all kinds of weird behaviours. For example, when I remote connect to the laptop the logon screen shows the Fingerprint reader user interface. Umm… not really much point ’cause the hardware I’m connected with doesn’t have a fingerprint reader.
Early days though – hopefully the feedback being logged up on Connect will help shape the product.
I’m still waiting on an invite to the developer Tech Preview to see what the Live Mesh APIs look like.
P.S. The folder sharing Live Mesh stuff seems to be working very nicely. I already prefer it to FolderShare.